Here's a good one. A professor of public administration from the University of Texas is coming to town today to debunk the rosy projections that are being tossed around about the Portland Convention Center Hotel -- the one that you and I are going to pay for as the city continues to throw good money after bad at the White Elephant.
The professor, Heywood Sanders, is the author of the important study that the Brookings Institution put out earlier this year, which shows that convention centers are bad bets for cities. They haven't panned out anywhere, St. Louis being a recent example of major disappointment.
Unfortunately, our city commissioners have all been hypnotized by the hotel deal, and it's going to happen no matter how wrong it is, and no matter how little the people of Portland want it -- just like the foolhardy Convention Center expansion. It's like addictive gambling -- rather than admit you did something stupid, you do something even more stupid trying to win your money back. And the fix is in, with Mr. Lloyd Center getting the pork. Hundreds of millions of public dollars, most of it probably local tax money, and complete property tax forgiveness -- rumor has it, the hotel will pay no property taxes at all for 30 years. This is what we're spending our hard-earned city revenues to create.
The flyer for today's talk says that the event is an attempt to relate to the "local debate" about the hotel. Boy, if Sanders can find a genuine opportunity to "debate" this, he's one smart professor. This deal was done long, long ago, most likely in one or more smoke-filled rooms, back in the Vera-Neil-Mazziotti days (when Commissioner Sam Adams was the mayor's economic development guru). There's simply no stopping it, which is such a sad statement about our city. If it's such a good idea, let's put it up for a public vote! In your dreams.