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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 20, 2007 9:41 AM. The previous post in this blog was Sing around the Maypole with Homer and Dike. The next post in this blog is That which we call SoWhat, by any other name would still smell. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sticker shock

The great Movable Scam -- the proposed taxpayer-financed Portland Convention Center hotel -- will not die, but it sure gets uglier and uglier. Now the Goldschmidt Boys at Metro who are pushing the thing are actually coming out and admitting that the facility won't pay for itself -- not even close. Indeed, here we are still in the preliminary stages of "planning" the hotel -- the time when everybody knows all the projections are rose-colored lies -- and already the revenue is going to be nearly $8 million a year short of what it will take to get a mortgage to build it. But don't worry! Somehow, eight years after the hotel opens, we can predict that there will be a sudden surge in tourism in Portland, and magically all the financial troubles will disappear. And if it doesn't? The taxpayers can pick up the difference.

If this is what Metro is peddling before they rubberstamp the backroom deal that was made on this project years ago, can you imagine what a sober assessment of the truth would be? A $10 million annual shortfall? $12 million? $20 million? Remember, as they say, "All figures are estimates until the hotel's builders provide a guaranteed price." Uh huh.

Meanwhile, a new slice of baloney has been added to the steaming pile that's already been generated on this deal: Without the hotel, Metro now says, the Convention Center will "fail." Gentlemen, get serious. The Convention Center has never done anything but fail since the day Bud Clark built it. It doesn't attract big conventions, and it never will. It's going to be, at best, a decent but overbuilt facility that hosts a nice roster of regional and local confabs. It's always going to lose money. That's why the voters voted not to expand it, but Vera, Opie, and Sam the Tram knew better. Which is how we got to the losing condition that we find the facility in now.

And the Convention Center's not going to forfeit 15 percent of its existing business to places like Spokane just because it doesn't have a big hotel attached. It's a pretty safe bet that the Greater Western Oregon Quilters Weekend and the Oregon Chess Federation are staying in Portland. That threat is about as valid as the promise that somehow that bottomless pot of money known as lottery funds will miraculously make this stinker pencil out.

One way that Metro's proposing to make money magically appear is to refinance the currently outstanding bonds on the Convention Center, presumably stretching out the term of those bonds and lowering the annual debt service on them. The lighter payments on those bonds could then free up hotel-motel tax dollars to go for the headquarters hotel scam. Borrow from Peter to pay Paul -- sound like good fiscal policy to you?

I'm sure there's more smoke waiting to come blasting out of the Metro p.r. machine before this one's over. We haven't heard "green and sustainable" yet, and of course, there's always "for the children." But a better tack would be for all the Metro suits to splash some cold water on their faces and get a grip. It's time for somebody in the Network to buy Hank Ashforth a nice set of golf clubs and a case of great pinot and break the news to him that we're sorry, but we can't put this one over.

Comments (11)

This is such a done deal. Just more of the racket for the elite called Portland.

And I'm sure Metro Councilor Brian Newman will stick around just long enough to make that yes vote for the Hotel before he begins his new OHSU pitch man campaign to confiscate more funding for all the things over budget and unfunded in SoWa,
that the linchpin Tram somehow didn't quite linch.

Of course those wise people at the Oregonian editorial board already concluded the Hotel was vital and would be a boom to the region and State.

So why does Metro need to study it any further.
They should quit pussy footing around, cite the Editorial Board's "expertice",
and get building.

This is all way too sickening.

What we have here is a region wholy dominated by a batch of elected officials completely oblivious to the notion of fiduciary responsibility,
incompetant beyond belief,
corrupted by phony agenda's and conflicts of interest,
totally incappable of assessing legitimate use of public money and who never require any genuine performance auditting to determine real public benefit.

The perfect storm for re-election :)

"A new slice added to the steaming pile of baloney." That analogy hits on cylinders for me. In addition to the misleading nature of the project it conjures offensive visual and nasal elements. All touted by the proponents as prime rib. Time for lunch. Ugh.

With people like Carl Hostika -- you know, they guy who still, STILL defends the Beaverton Round as a good idea -- on the Metro council, this Hotel will be built and will be another tax dollar black hole.

Until you can get more direct flights to Portland from major cities in the US, we'll always be a second rate convention city. It has nothing to do with the facilities themselves. That's the biggest thing--it takes an extra four hours to fly here from anywhere because you have to fly through Seattle, or Denver, or San Francisco. And I imagine people eventually ask themselves, hey, why not just hold the convention in Seattle, or Denver, or San Francisco?

C'mon, as long as Ashforth has his hand up the back of the Metro board and Bragdon yearns for it, odds are against the taxpayer.

I am going to be curious if they have guts to pull the same financial deal as when they tried to get CoP to finance this thing like getting all the prop taxes back, being exempt from room taxes AND not having to pay the bond bakc if they don't meet proift margins (I can guarantee that won't happen.)

Frank, who constitutes the electors, registered voters of Metro's boundaries?

Someday we'll read in the late 10's that an expanded Convention Hotel is needed otherwise the Convention Hotel will "fail".

Which was built in the late 00's because otherwise the expanded Convention Center would "fail".

Which was expanded in the late 90's because otherwise the Convention Center would "fail".

Which was built in the first place in the late 80's so that hotels like the Top of the Cosmo wouldn't "fail".

More failure. That is why CoP has five urban renewal areas just in the Central City. Everything seems to be failing.

Lee - It depends on who issues the bonds, Metro or Portland. I notice that my post was deleted, don't know why.

Once again I love the MAX, the Pearl, streetcars and I even recognize that the money spent on the tram was tiny compared to the hundreds of millions it would have cost us if OHSU expanded at another site. Having said that, this government funded hotel plan is completely nuts. I hope someone steps forward and stops this before it goes any further. They will look like a hero and very mayoral(Sam!). I’m sure many tax breaks and probably free land was offered to hotel developers and that was still not enough to persuade one to build it. That’s all you need to know about the financial prospects. To me it would be even worse if the thing succeeded. Part of the logic of convention centers is that they drive future tourism. If somebody spends two days entirely within the 1970’s auto slum that is the Lloyd Center they will never come back to Portland.

Sherwood,
You are comletely nuts.

You appear to have yet to discover that the Tram was only the leading edge
of 100s of millions, amounting to over a BILLION, in tax dollars being spent for the elitists in SoWa.
Calling it tiny makes you nuts.
OHSU's phony threat to expand at another site was as real as their forcast of the Tram spurring 10,000 biotech jobs in SoWa.
Having said that, I people like you wake up and step forward with complaints instead of blind degense.
Otherweise the Bullsh-t will soon be pursuading you the hotel makes sense just as it did with the Tram and SoWa.


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