Not particularly surprising, but moments ago, Citizens Against the Taxpayer-Owned Hotel sent out a missive announcing that, yes, matter of fact the City Secretary has in fact verified the 60,000 signatures it turned in last month. (Really? All 60,000 were good? Gosh, if only we could get Deborah Watkins to call us back. Update: Watkins just called back to say she will not confirm the number, because she wants to get a memo to the council this afternoon concerning the final tally -- before it hits the news media. Um, um.)
Which means, yes, there will indeed be a May referendum concerning the convention center hotel -- which, of course, isn't stopping Mayor Tom Leppert from going ahead with planning and, he hopes, construction of the joint well in advance of the vote. The full media release is after the jump, but a highlight courtesy Harlan Crow's second-in-command, Anne Raymond: “We call on the City Council to immediately halt their hotel spending spree and allow the impartial democratic process to take place.” Good luck with all that. --Robert Wilonsky
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CHARTER AMENDMENT REGARDING TAXPAYER-OWNED HOTEL QUALIFIES FOR MAY BALLOT
City Hall Should Immediately Halt Hotel Spending Until Vote Takes Place
DALLAS—Citizens Against the Taxpayer-Owned Hotel today announced the 60,000 signatures of Dallas voters submitted to the City Secretary 4 weeks ago have been verified and the charter amendment to prevent the city from owning the $550 million taxpayer-owned hotel will be placed on the May, 2009 ballot.
“Today is a victory for Dallas taxpayers,” said Anne Raymond, spokesperson for Citizens Against the Taxpayer-Owned Hotel. “The individuals being asked to assume all the risk and cover the losses are now guaranteed a voice in this process.”
“We call on the City Council to immediately halt their hotel spending spree and allow the impartial democratic process to take place,” Raymond continued.
Citizens Against the Taxpayer-Owned Hotel collected more than 60,000 signatures in only 15 days before submitting them to the City Secretary on October 9, 2008. Despite that, in an effort to sidestep a vote of the taxpayers, the City approved $4 million in additional expenditures as certification was underway. Additionally, in October, the City approved a related refinancing of the convention center itself, costing another $225 million in bond payments.
Our nation practices governance with participation of the people. With a May election now a foregone conclusion, it is compulsory the City Council respect its citizens’ prerogative, immediately cease all hotel related financing, and allow the taxpayers their constitutional right to vote.
“Dallas citizens were afforded the opportunity to vote on the American Airlines Center, the Parkland Hospital, the school bond, the Trinity -- twice, and a homeless shelter that will cost $526 million less than the hotel,” said Raymond. “There is no reason the unprejudiced practice of democracy should be circumvented for a massive, costly publicly-owned hotel.”