By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Sentimental journey: So it's damn the petitions, full speed ahead with City Hall's plan to spend a half-billion dollars to build a convention center hotel. Nearly 60,000 people signed petitions calling for a public vote, but the city intends to sell bonds for the project in January, though the earliest that balloting could take place would be May, assuming one-third of those signatures are valid.
As Dallas Morning News staffer Dave Levinthal reported, city leaders are iffy on whether they'd be required or even willing to listen if a vote went against the hotel. "...Would the vote merely reflect public sentiment, too late to affect the progress of a project already in motion?" Levinthal asked.
So it's possible that a public vote by Dallas residents on how the city spends their money could be relegated to the level of a silly hypothetical question game kids have at sleepovers: "Would you rather build a publicly financed hotel or...TONGUE KISS YOUR GRANDMA?"
Well, that depends. Will grandma shave her mustache first?
Seriously, we have no opinion—yet—on whether the hotel is a good idea. Omni Hotels, which just might get the job managing the facility, thinks it's peachy. (Surprise!) The company is circulating a letter urging folks to support the project. The letter raises the obvious question: "If the hotel is such a good idea, why don't you build the damn thing yourself, Omni Hotels?"
The answer's complicated, of course. There are financing whozits and bond rate whatzits involved that only really smart people in the financial industry, those geniuses, really get, so the rest of us might be reduced merely to expressing sentiment.
Lord love this town. The level of hubris shown weekly at City Hall hasn't been seen since Caligula was boinking his sister. It's amusing in a "you gotta be shittin' me" sort of way. Take this howler from the pro-hotel Web site buildthehotel.com. It's a quote from city council member Tennell Atkins:
"The question is—who are YOU going to put your faith in to guide your decision for our city? On the pro-hotel side, you have a broad-based group representing every chamber, thousands of widely respected business and community leaders, almost every area government leader and even the downtown hotels who want the convention center hotel.
"On the other hand, you have a Park Cities billionaire with very deep pockets, and a small group of paid consultants and paid petition-gatherers working to help protect his self-interests. Who truly has Dallas taxpayers' interests at heart?"
Are those the only choices? Why are you asking us? We just live here.