As we pointed out earlier, the city council's Economic Development Committee met in executive session this afternoon regarding the convention center hotel. After more than two hours behind closed doors, the committee -- sans Mitchell Rasansky -- actually recommended public ownership of the hotel. And, despite developers offering the use of other properties, the $42 million Chavez property will indeed be the spot upon which your new hotel will be built, pending a council vote on May 14.
Yes, it will be all yours. Which means if this hotel can't make it in a downtown with a 60-percent occupancy rate, then Dallas taxpayers are on the hook for any losses.
So, then, why should we own the hotel?
Well, the argument boils down to the city getting a better rate on the debt, which amounts to me having Schutze buy me a new house simply because he can get a better deal on the loan. Need another reason? Many other convention center hotels are publicly owned, so why should Dallas be any different? Yup, that's it. The entire argument for having the city owning the hotel: The city can get a better deal on the funding, and everyone else is doing it.
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Council member Angela Hunt couldn't discuss the hush-hush meeting, but says she can see why the council is getting behind this project.
"It's a big, exciting project and much more fun than dealing with potholes and hiring more police," Hunt tells Unfair Park. "Let's build a Lego set over here with this new, shiny hotel. Then you can say, 'Look what we did.' That's what it is."
Perhaps the only interesting thing to come from Mayor Leppert's trip to China was what he had to say after visiting Hong Kong's convention center: "You come to Hong Kong, and you see the benefits this [a convention center hotel] has for a city," he said. "But the public money -- you want to try to get to zero if you can. I don't think that's possible. But I want to take time to minimize it as much as possible."
Try to minimize as much as possible? How does pushing for a publicly owned and publicly financed hotel amount to minimizing public money? The only way the city could use more public money is to use dollar bills as wallpaper.