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.