As expected, the city council voted 12-1 to rubber stamp two items on Wednesday’s briefing agenda, with Angela Hunt in opposition and Mitchell Rasansky and Dr. Elba Garcia recused because of a conflict. This authorized the issuance of $42 million in certificates of obligation to purchase 8.375 acres of property on Young Street.
Of course, the real vote on this was last week, but now it’s officially a done deal. In fact, the council was able to wrap this up a week early, thanks to a motion last week from Dwaine Caraway. Congrats, citizens of Dallas, you own a parking lot secured with your property taxes. But have no fear; you’ll soon be paying for a juicy hotel to go on top of it.
While this week’s meeting lacked the intrigue of last week’s big vote, the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau trotted out some speakers, and Hunt gave one of them a bit of a slapdown. Let’s jump for a recap, along with some video starring none other than Angela Hunt.
The only speakers signed up on the item were Matthew Jones, Laura Estrada, Jay Forte and Joe Walker of the DCVB, which is jumping for joy because it’s getting the hotel it wants in addition to receiving a check from the City of Dallas for $500,000 -- a refund of the money spent on the land option.
Jones, not to be confused with DCVB president and CEO Phillip Jones, was the only one eligible to speak because the others signed up last week. However, Dave Neumann made a motion, which was unanimously approved, to suspend the rule that would have forced the other three to wait until the end of the meeting because they spoke in the last 30 days. After the motion, Mayor Tom made sure to remind the council that this was just a “technical” vote because of the vote last week.
Jones, executive vice president and CFO for the DCVB, struggled a bit as the mic gave out during his speech. He eventually deferred to Estrada, who is the DCVB chair-elect. She thanked the council for its courage and said meeting planners had been calling since the vote last week. Translation? These people know just what we’ve been saying for a long time: The land purchase was the gateway to building a hotel, and now that the land deal has passed, the hotel vote is a mere formality.
After the speakers, Ron Natinsky made the motion to approve the two items. Then Hunt requested that Jones come back up to the lectern, and she asked if he remembered a discussion she had with him and Phillip Jones at an April 29 city arts reception regarding her concerns that she hadn’t been shown an appropriate analysis to secure her vote on this deal. Hunt said both the Joneses asked what she needed, and she was clear that she wanted the same information she had been asking the city about for approximately nine months.
Jones said the information was ready, and he’d be e-mailing it to her this week.
“I’d love to discuss that with you,” Hunt said.
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Vonciel Hill was the only other council member to weigh in, asking Leppert to assure her that the vote had nothing to do with a publicly owned hotel and only with the land purchase. This is because she supports the buying the land but not public ownership of the hotel, as she stated last week.
Only, we've got news for Hill: This vote had everything to do with the hotel, as has every vote on this since February. She just needs to ask her friend, Angela Hunt.
“I think every vote that’s been taken on this is a vote on the hotel to go forward.” --Sam Merten