Sunday, April 22, 2012

ZAP! #86: Let's Make A Deal

ZAP! #86
     There seems to be a new dynamic floating through the community with regards to the Entertainment Center.  In an effort to make the $250 million financial boondoggle seem more appealing, the efforts of the promoters have shifted into high gear aimed towards the political the height of the election season.  

     So, instead of this project being just a flawed fiscal issue, the developers and their hired guns, lobbyists, ex-mayor Gears, PR flack and rent-a-citizens are waxing that the city council should take action ASAP to get this project moving.  Newspaper ads.  Meetings in smoke-filled rooms.  Consultant studies that laude ‘economic impact,’ but fall short by not even considering the current and future cost to the city or property tax payers.

     Staff of the CCR will state again.  We favor an Entertainment Center of some description for the Convention Center area.  That is and has been our position all along.  

     In fact, we will go on record, out on the limb and firmly state that we would favor the current $250 million model if only ex-mayor Gears, LCG developers and all the Kool-Aid addicts would agree and guarantee the following:
  • Investment grade bonds would be issued
  • The city’s AAA bond rating would remain intact
  • HOT taxes would not be double pledged
  • Developer would immediately provide the contractually required documentation reflecting their $80 million is on hand
  • The city’s General Fund would not have to fund ANY cost of the ICVB, Arts Center, or museum annual budgets, debt service cost, or possible Entertainment Center budget shortfalls
  • Property tax payers would not be on the hook or pledged for ANY payments or cost related to the Entertainment Center via the General fund
  • The current agreement with the LCG would be amended immediately to remove or correct all of the onerous provisions that treat the city like a minority partner (ie: 100-year lease, only $1 million/year revenue for 50-years, compliance with the city’s -- not the LCG agreement terms -- 60/40 RAB, etc.)
     Is this really too much to ask?  Wouldn’t good business principles dictate that the party footing the largest part of the deal (the city) at least be treated equally...if not preferentially?  Shouldn’t citizens expect this basic level of competence from their elected officials?  

     From the perspective of the CCR staff, the LCG seems to keep “throwing the anchor” each and every time the city appears to question, request or require action that would make the agreement or project right without detriment or penalizing property tax payers by putting them on the hook.  

     If all of this seems simple to you, then you should agree with the CCR.  Let’s do the $250 million project!  
     We have our shovel standing in the corner ready to heave the first spade of dirt for construction as soon as ALL of the above have been completed or accomplished.  Until then, we’ll use our shovel to plant the Spring garden. 

.....................Mark Holbrook