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One Convention Center Hotel Critic Down, One To Go

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The city's plans to go ahead with that convention center hotel came closer to fruition today as Mitchell Rasansky, a major critic of the project, was told by city attorneys this morning that he can no longer vote on or discuss anything related to the proposed hotel because of a conflict of interest. Rasansky's departure from this debate leaves only one council member asking tough questions about this project -- who else but Angela Hunt. Hunt vs. everyone else -- that doesn't seem familiar at all.

When today's Economic Development Committee meeting started, Ron Natinsky, the committee's chair, explained that anyone connected in any way to the hotel project would need to recuse themselves from discussion. He mentioned two of the six firms handling the underwriting of the purchase of the $42 million in properties near the convention center, Citigroup Global Markets and UBS Securities, as examples.

Rasansky quickly jumped in, asking why any interest in these companies had anything to do with talking about the hotel's feasibility study by HVS Consulting, which was the first item on the docket. He spoke privately with Natinsky and then was taken outside of the meeting to speak with city attorneys.

Rasansky returned once to talk with Natinsky but was forced out of the discussion on the hotel because he owns stock in Citigroup. Unfair Park caught up with Rasansky on his way back into the meeting after the hotel discussion ended.

He claims the amount of stock he owns in Citigroup is "nobody's business," and he said, "I'm sorry, but I can no longer talk to you about the convention center hotel." Rasansky was clearly upset as he walked back to the meeting. "I think this really sucks, but there's nothing I can do about it," he said.

The council voted to approve the six underwriters during its March 26 agenda meeting, with Rasansky not voting because of his conflict and only Hunt voting no. Turns out that was also a vote to get rid of Rasansky too. Nice one, Mayor Tom. Well played.

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