We can start voting on the convention center hotel today, thanks to early voting (click here to find a spot near you).
If you’re still not sure what to do or how to vote, here are a couple of hopefully helpful ideas.
1) WFAA-TV broadcast a discussion between Anne Raymond, the no-hotel spokesman, and Mayor Tom Leppert, who’s leading the pro-hotel charge, the other night, and you can watch it online by clicking here. There’s no knock-out punch in this debate, but if you watch the 25-minutes-or-so online, you’ll see for yourself what the protagonists are saying. It’s way more informative than reading the ads and mailers, that’s for sure.
2) Dave Levinthal with the DMN breaks down the two propositions on the ballot in a story, including a discussion of why we need to vote "no" to build the hotel and "yes" to kill it. Again, you won’t find a knock-out punch, but you will find plenty of background and information, including the actual proposition language we’ll be seeing on the ballot.
If you’re interested, here’s how I’m voting …
I’m voting "yes" on proposition one to block construction of the hotel. I agree the city would be better off with a hotel next to the convention center; I just do not believe we as taxpayers need to build, finance and be responsible for operating the $500 million-plus hotel. If no private developer is willing to step up and build it — even with a city subsidy — that tells me this deal is a loser right now, and we as taxpayers are not (and never will be) smarter investors than private developers. We’ll get a hotel in good time when it makes financial sense; we just don’t need to force the square peg in the round hole today by sinking our tax dollars into the project.
I’m voting "no" on proposition two, which would permanently change the city charter to require a referendum anytime 500 registered voters sign a peitition questioning a city subsidy of $1 million or more. This proposition wouldn’t even be on the ballot if it wasn’t for the council getting us involved in the private development business with the hotel; the union groups that put this language together were simply mad because they couldn’t get the city to promise them enough union jobs at the hotel. It’s bad business to tie the council’s hands on subsidies for worthy projects, and that’s exactly what proposition two does.
One final point: If you watch the debate, Leppert makes a point of saying that this election isn’t about him — in fact, he says it quite a few times. The sad fact is that the election is about him — I’ve heard an inordinate number of people say (unprompted by me) that they generally like the hotel idea, but thanks to what happened with the Trinity referendum and Leppert’s comments about that one prior to the election two years ago, they’re not sure if they can trust Leppert anymore.
If the hotel is approved, it will be the strength of Leppert’s personality that wins the day. If the hotel is rejected by voters, it will be because those voting against it don’t trust Leppert anymore.