In what has to be classified as finally grasping a good sense of the obvious, Mayor Tom Leppert said Thursday during a radio debate that market conditions won’t allow the city to begin construction on the $500 million-plus taxpayer-owned convention center hotel downtown prior to the May 9 referendum on the project.

When asked directly if Leppert and the council would abide by voters’ decision, for or against the hotel, in the referendum, here’s what Leppert had to say, according a DMN report:

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"I believe this vote is extremely important. That’s the vote that I’m looking at. That’s why we’re debating today. That’s why I’m spending so much time on this issue," Leppert said.

"Is that a yes or a no, though?" (KRLD’s Scott) Braddock pressed.

"I think that’s a yes," Leppert replied. "But I also don’t know what all the circumstances are and how those change in the future. But I certainly believe this vote is the critical thing that, to a large extent, is going to determine how effective we’re going to be in building a tax base in the future. It is a big vote."

I suppose he could have just answered the question with a "yes" or a "no", but there you have it: An equivocal but fairly direct statement, with Leppert probably attempting to blunt the charge of "arrogance" that the "No Hotel" commercials have slapped on him during the group’s ongoing television campaign.

Remember that a vote "no" May 9 is a vote against the referendum and for construction of the hotel, while a "yes" vote May 9 is a vote for the referendum and against the hotel.

Got that?