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Friday, April 10, 2009

City Election: the hotel and so much more

Voters who live in the City of Dallas return to the polls on May 9 to decide the fate of Mayor Tom Leppert's proposed convention center hotel, as well as to set a course for significant development and renewal strategies going forward. Voters must decide between "yes" and "no" on two propositions.

Proposition One will amend the city charter to prohibit the City of Dallas from financing, constructing, acquiring, leasing or operating a hotel or other lodging facility. Here's another slightly confusing choice for voters. If you are against the Mayor's hotel plan, you vote "Yes" on the proposition. If you favor the plan for a new convention center hotel, you vote "No" on the proposition.

Proposition Two also amends the city's charter to prohibit the City of Dallas from "providing more than a total of $1,000,000 in financial assistance. . .to any private development project . . .unless the city gives at least 65 days’ public notice. . .before approving the financial assistance and obtains voter approval" to do so.

This idea is amazing to me. In short, every time the City of Dallas, via the action of its duly elected City Council, determines to invest in any development project valued over $1 million, it must submit such an action to the voters for approval!

Mayor Leppert is correct. Such a proposal would shut down development in the City of Dallas and stifle the city's leadership in promoting much needed development. Again, if you want to put the brakes on aggressive development and urban renewal, vote "Yes." If you want to keep things open and free to our elected officials, vote "No."

A word about Tom Leppert. If you live in Dallas, you've seen the professional media blitz every day on television. The ads are very well done, but carry a negative, divisive message that our city doesn't need. Specifically objectionable to me, and to thousands of others who know this mayor, is the accusation that Mayor Leppert is "arrogant." Nothing could be further from the truth in my experience over the past two years. I and a number of others here at CDM, as well as numerous of our partners, have worked closely with the mayor and his team on many issues, including homelessness, affordable housing, public education, health and human services and emergency preparedness to mention just a few. We have learned that Tom Leppert is a wise, smart dedicated leader who wakes up every day thinking of the interests of all of our citizens in every corner of our city.

On a personal note, I don't think that I've ever met a better listener than Tom Leppert.

To call him arrogant is not only untrue, it is offensive.

What about the hotel our mayor wants to build?

I can't see the downside.

Hundreds of jobs will be created during the construction. Hundreds more permanent jobs will follow in the operations phase. New convention business will be attracted to the city. The proposed development will encourage more activity and renewal Downtown. In short, the plan is a great investment in the future of our city's core and its overall enterprise.

Even Steve Blow thinks the idea has merit! And, he is convinced our mayor is an honest man and a great leader, as he lays out here.

Because I want a big "Yes" for my hometown, I will vote "No" on both propositions come May 9.



c hand said...

If you "can't SEE the downside", how can you make an honest assessment of any proposal. Are those who claim a downside all fools and villains?

james teagon said...


Developing trust begins with telling the truth. There was not another vote by the neighborhood association when the Hamilton's realized their plan would require PSH back in the mix. This is a fact confirmed by the CNA board.

The CNA overwhelmingly supported the Hamilton plan that was mostly low-income housing. As you know, most neighborhoods would have rejected this type of plan. Per the DMN " "Our experience ended on a positive note with the neighborhood," Larry Hamilton

Well again you disappoint me Larry now I know why you like Leppert you both like to push your agendas down people's throats and tell them that they don't understand.

There are a lot of homeless people who want help, but there are also those who want to take advantage of the system. If you would tell the truth to the neighborhoods they may be more willing to listen. If you have a program that makes an effort to involve the neighborhood about who gets in like families and people who want a better life instead of the slackers then you would have a lot more support.

Funny that you would support Leppert has he promised to build those supportive housing units. Hey he could use that 500 million to build work centers for the unemployed and homeless. It sounds like I'll scratch your back you'll scratch mine, and all the people who are mad at the Cedars people get off your self righteous horse you look pathetic.

Last thought the advocates always say that that NIMBY don't understand the homeless well the homeless and their advocates don't understand the NIMBY are just hardworking people who work for their living. It's said that people think work is a four letter word.

Larry James said...

James, I think I indicated that there was not another vote. The officers indicated there wasn't enough time; but the basic difference in the plan that was rejected and the plan that was accpeted was the inclusion of homeless persons and permanent supportive housing in the first plan. Oh, and in the first plan there was 72-units of brand new, market rate housing.

Your comments about the homeless in your post demonstrate my concern and one of my main points. You make assumptions about homeless persons here that are untrue and ill-informed. I'll leave it at that.

james teagon said...

You make assumptions about homeless persons here that are untrue and ill-informed. I'll leave it at that.

Assumptions Larry it's the truth some homeless want a better life others don't most people don't have a problem with those who want a better life they have a major problem with the slackers who just want to leach off of the system. You didn't read my post, but that's okay Larry you think you have all the solutions, but your arrogant and it shows. Your true colors are coming to the surface.

I'm glad to volunteer with Habitat they area organization that is about giving a hand up and not a handout you can learn a lot of things from them Larry and you never answered my question about Leppert why support the CC when it only will benefit the few while taking from the many.

Larry James said...

James, I won't argue with you. Your comments are here for others to evaluate. We see things differently. I'm sorry if that fact makes me sound arrogant. We likely need a cup of coffee! I'd gladly buy at your convenience.

Not sure what about the hotel and the mayor you want me to reply to. The hotel will help everyone in terms of jobs--work is a value and a reality that is most important to solvoing poverty. We agree on that, I know! It also will feed the tax base, put Dallas back in the convention market, etc.

One last thing, I support this proposal because I believe it to be good for Dallas. The mayor didn't ask me to post this, nor do I or our organization receive any benefit from my personal opinions.

Just Plain Steve said...

Mr. Teagon

As a reader with a real estate background, I would like to say some points that I hope you will consider. First -- having a first class convention center and hotel does wonders; forgot about all the people who are for this “deal”. Just look at the revenue numbers that come out of the top five convention cities in the US. They are in the billions. So should Dallas give that money and business away because it benefits the few – The few – like the guys -- who are funding all the ads against the hotel – doesn’t they own the hotel that could have the most negative financial impact if the convention center is built. I know – I don’t want to confuse you with the facts – right???
Another thing – I agree that nobody wants anyone to leach off the system. Neither do it - That is why; this program for Homelessness is one of the best I have seen. You should look into it and see how it is managed. -- I did – that is why I give them money and based upon my review that is why they are better at it than any government agencies. Now if you want to talk about people leaching off the system that is a place to start and there are plenty of other places to look at too. And, you deal with Habitat – that is great – but is doesn’t address the homeless issue. It just makes people feel good about homelessness.

Anonymous said...


I'll split the difference with you on the two propositions. I will vote yes on Prop 1 and no on Prop 2. My reasoning on Prop 1 comes from my background in real estate dealing with the financing on hotels. I do not believe the city should be in the hotel business because of the following:
1. $500mil could be better used to do some of the things that are near and dear to your heart. 2. The city has no expertise in running a hotel and the taxpayers in Dallas should not be saddled with the possibilities of operating losses. When I was with a national real estate group, I saw too many times where we had to fund operating losses that were never expected at the start. 3. If the city leaders truly believe that a convention hotel is needed, why not do a public/private joint venture with a revenue sharing/tax abatement to get the hotel without putting the taxpayer on the hook forever.

Anonymous said...

1. The $500 million for the hotel willl be funded by bonds paid by the revenue from the hotel. That's money that doesn't exist without the convention hotel, and therefore it can't be used for other needs.

2. I am very concerned with the possibility of operating losses--that's an enormous potential problem because if the losses become great enough, then the City of Dallas will need to dip into other sources of funds to pay those losses. I'm not concerned about the City's ability to run the hotel, so long as it contracts with an experienced, reputable operator.

3. There isn't much point in a public/private partnership. The hotel will be funded with municipal bonds that the City has to stand behind. Any public/private partnership between the City and a private entity would be heads you win, tails I lose. That's a bad deal.

I am probably going to vote for the hotel (against the proposal), but neither side has really publicized the numbers that will determine whether the hotel is a success or failure. Without a serious, independent economic analysis of the hotel proposal, only complete idealogues--either in favor of government work programs or against government participation in the market--have any way to make an intelligent decision on the proposal.

It may be good. It may be bad. Nobody that doesn't already have a horse in the race is going to tell us.

On the whole, I trust our elected political leaders just a touch more than someone who owns a rival hotel and doesn't want the competition. That's the basis for my yes vote.

Lorlee said...

laughing out loud -- that you consider Steve Blow to be anything more than a shill for the DMN position.

And yes -- those guys do lie. I was very involved in the Trinity proposal 10 years ago and stood there absolutely amazed at the blatant lies those elected politicians were willing to tell.

Look at the proposal, determine if it makes good sense for the City -- not so much who is for or against.

If this is such a good idea -- why isn't private enterprise willing to do it. So, Larry, we make a few jobs -- we could make those jobs in other areas where they would do more good.

I am always amazed that we seem so willing to subsidize the wealthy -- who scream private enterprise until they want to feed at the trough.

I am voting against the hotel, and against prop 2 since I think it is too limiting.