By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
For someone who doesn't have any actual money, Buzz lately has been mighty interested—obsessed even—with the stock market. We check the Dow Jones about a zillion times a day, pulling for positive numbers like craps players around a table hollering for a hard eight.
We can only imagine what things are like at City Hall for Mayor Tom Leppert and other convention center hotel supporters watching the fluctuating interest rates in the bond markets. The city needs to sell a ton of bonds to get the $500 million project off the ground before voters have a chance to decide May 9 whether they actually want the damn thing. Leppert and friends' strategy is straightforward: Sell the bonds before the election, and it'll be too late to stop the city's plan to build the hotel.
So the city's waiting on a favorable shift that would give it the 5.5 percent interest rate it deems reasonable before asking the council to pull the trigger on selling the bonds, but lately the dice haven't been falling the city's way.
Do you think that as he soaps up in the shower, Leppert belts out "Luck Be a Lady"?
OK, bad mental image.
She hasn't been such a nice lady lately, which might explain Leppert's busy schedule of speaking engagements at which he urges anyone who'll listen to vote against Proposition 1. If it passed, the charter amendment would prohibit the city from building the hotel. His electioneering included a couple of speeches at local churches this past weekend.
About two weeks ago, a source close to the project told us the bond market had rebounded, and the city was close to getting the interest rate it's shooting for. This week, the same insider told us the market has taken another turn south, and the city has all but abandoned hope to secure funding before the referendum.
Assistant city manager A.C. Gonzalez would not confirm that claim, but he did tell us construction on the project wouldn't begin this week as the city council had hoped.
"We have said consistently that we would not proceed until we were in a position to achieve the financial targets that we had briefed from the beginning," Gonzalez says. "And with the given situation in the marketplace right now, we're not at that point."
Looks like it's back to relying on the will of the voters. Don't you know City Hall just hates that.