State Delegate Karen Lewis Young attacks critics of the DH&CC for slowing down the project — RESPONSE

Delegate Young has a real talent for missing the point. Ms Evasion, she is. Small groups have done nothing to slow the downtown hotel and conference center project, unfortunately. It is just slow all on its own.

As a bloated cumbersome City government project it is inherently slow because of its huge and evolving complexity as a so-called public-private partnership (PPP), part financed by the business, part financed from distinct three levels of government with multiple layers of financial gimmickry designed to deceive the taxpayer into thinking the largesse comes from on somewhere on high, rather than out of their own pockets.

Make-work for many consultants and the City’s office of economic development it is likely to have taken ten years from talk start to when a shovel moves, and it will have run up many thousands of hours of government, corporate and private face time in endless negotiations, and horsetrading.

Plus the taxpayer is firmly on the hook through the loss of general fund revenues from the tax breaks and debt that are incurred on behalf of the chosen hotel business.

The lesson to be drawn from this creeping mess should be: Never Again. Let hoteliers build hotels on their own money and add meeting space if they choose, but again on their own nickel. And if the people want a conference center because investors don’t see any money in it, then (1) recognize that potential users may be telling investors ‘We don’t need it’ or (2) if it is to be put on taxpayers then have an independent accounting assessment of what it is going to cost as a simple City service and put it to them in a ballot.

If Ms Young apparently doesn’t even wonder whether there isn’t a better way than this slow juggernaut of a PPP then she suffers from tunnel vision.

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