The DMN today summarizes its opposition to Proposition 1:
This charter amendment would bar the city from ever owning or financing a hotel under any circumstances, an imprudent ban that would cost Dallas and North Texas millions in convention-related business. The city has made major investments in its convention center and needs a hotel to help it compete for lucrative trade shows and conventions. Even opponents of the current project should be troubled by the sweeping scope of this unwise proposition. Vote no.
I am less troubled than the News would like me to be.Â That’s because — as the editorial board surely knows –theÂ language of the actualÂ amendment, which does not appear on the ballot, is not as sweeping as the News makes it out to be. Does it “bar the city from ever owning or financing a hotel under any circumstances…”? I quote from the amendment:
Sec. 15 (c): “This section does not prohibit: (i) the adoption of a tax increment financing district or tax abatement agreement in accordance with state law…”
State law, as this provision in the current city code states, would allowÂ the city to establish a TIF district to aid aÂ developer to build aÂ convention hotel, just as it did for Victory Park and countless other projects.
TheÂ convention hotel, as currently proposed, Â is not financially prudent. Anyone who believes it is, including the editorialists of the News, would do us allÂ a favor byÂ publishing the financial projections to prove it. There’s a reason the News has never argued the merits of a city-paid hotel from the numbers. Rosy scenarios tend to fade when put to the test of a simple calculator.
By the way, the city makes it very difficult to see the actual language of the amendment you’ll be voting on. I only found it with the help of techno-savvy friends who were able to plumb the depths the city’s website. It is here in the minutes of the March 4, 2009, City Council briefing. You have to scroll down to page 31 to see the provision I quoted above.Â (To be fair, maybe the News couldn’t find it?)