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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Metro test: How stupid is the public?

The council unanimously approved a resolution introduced by Councilor Rod Park to spend $669,000 and six months finalizing an agreement with a development team that includes the development of a preliminary schedule for development of a 600-room hotel, a preliminary project budget and a hotel operating agreement.

“Today’s decision is not a commitment to build the hotel,” said Park.

Yeah, right. That "commitment" will come when (a) nobody's looking, (b) shortly after they pull out the old "We've spent too many hundreds of thousands to turn back now," or (c) a few months after construction starts. This fiasco is so a done deal. Sad.

Comments (19)

Rationalization. Justification. Distorted facts. And ignoring the most important needs. It looks to me like these are the new watch words of our leaders, going back beyond the decision to attack Iraq. Is there a pattern here?

You know there are at least three hotels right across the street between MLK and Grand. Why should they be subject to subsidized competition? If there were a need for such a hotel don't you think someone would have either expanded or built one by now?

We need to keep vigilant or these Metro people will sneak it in!

An existing privately owned hotel a few blocks from the convention center is in the process of being updated and expanded by its owners. The Doubletree at the Lloyd Center is just a short hop on the Max to the convention center. Why not just work with the existing local private hotel industry to provide rooms for the convention center? A prominent economist, Joe Cortright I think it was, said Metro's proposed publicly owned hotel was financially dubious. So, this "bad" penny keeps coming back (18 years in the making if I recall correctly). It's like even third party experts are talking to the proverbial wall when it comes to Metro and PDX council. There must be some developers and unions wanting some public building dollars as usual in PDX. PDX leaders' mantra: borrow and spend yourself into boom times but be sure to skip town, or get your gold plated retirement package, just before the bubble pops.


They built it, but who came?

The promise maker: Joe D'Alessandro, president and CEO of the Portland Oregon Visitors Association—along with other supporters of expanding the Oregon Convention Center in 2003.

The promise: Backers of spending $116 million—covered by increased taxes on hotel rooms and rental cars—to add 407,500 square feet of exhibition space to the 500,000-square-foot convention center said that money would attract $130 million more a year to the city's economy, in large part by bringing in more conventioneers. The basic claim: If you build it, they will come .

What he actually said: Spending that $116 million, D'Alessandro announced in an April 2003 press release, would "ensure Portland is viewed as a premier convention destination."

So what happened? Not much. The rough number of hotel-room bookings linked to the convention center has fluctuated since the expansion, but not sharply increased. Records show 125,000 bookings in 2002 and 133,000 bookings in 2005, with highs and lows in between.

Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio and recognized national convention-center critic, says any increase in bookings could also be thanks to an improving economy (and the corresponding increase in travel) as opposed to the expansion.

In addition, a February 2005 Forbes report said the Oregon Convention Center had to "indirectly waive rental fees" for the organizers of 10 "decent-sized shows" just to get them here, and that "fewer than 30 percent of convention goers...came from outside Portland."

What he says now: D'Alessandro says last year "was kind of a record year for the industry here in Portland, very high revenue at the convention center." He adds that 2005 showed, "by far and away, the largest amount of visitor spending in the region."

But in the face of the actual numbers, all D'Alessandro can deliver is a list of conventions that he believes wouldn't have come before the expansion; likewise, the most recent economic report available from the convention center covers 2003, which doesn't tell us anything of recent activity.

Cutting through it all: D'Alessandro says the numbers wouldn't be as good without the expansion. But the lack of recent stats to back his claims—other than the insignificant increase in bookings—instills no confidence in those claims.—Amy McCullough

This is exactly the same as the Tram and 10,000 biotech jobs.

There isn't a shred of documented, legitimate evidence to support the public beneift outcome this Hotel hype is claiming. And it demonstrates fully incompetent nature of the powers that be and their inability to grasp even the most obvious and overwhelming reality.

A bigger no brainer there has seldom been.

But with Metro's unanimous vote to spend an additional $600k to cook up a shroud of bogus justification, the greased skids of the status quo will be delivering this Convention Center Hotel.
In all it's shinning glory, with this added shrine, the facility will remain forever needing that one last piece of the linchpin.
And all the while these boongdoggles appear, "where will we ever find the desperatetly needed infrastructure revenue"?

You guys who think Metro is going to sneak this through when you're not looking have it all wrong. This is a vote to see if the City of Portland and Multnomah County are willing to kick in enough bucks to make Metro's subsidy pencil out.

You will have plenty of chances to complain about this hotel project before it is approved anyway. Grin

Greg C

Answer: very stupid.

Metro is a redundant and wholly unnecessary layer of local government. Can't we just get rid of it??

I guess Donald Trump looked the idea over and thought it was a loser, so METRO has to pump our dollars into a bad idea.
If you build it no one will come!
Portland does not have enough direct flights to our fair city to incourage that many new coventions.

This is insane!!! So most of a million bucks down the drain. Does anybody not realize that Hilton (which owns Double Tree at Lloyd Center, just five blocks away), Marriott (with Courtyard three blocks away), and Starwood aren't aware of the situation at the PDX Conv Center? Of course they are, but none of them see it worth the investment to build a hotel in PDX. So the "free market" is basically saying, "forget it." That means the only way this can happen is if the taxpayer gets screwed. Metro is just investing in ball gags, chains, and leather straps.

Steve --

I'm not so sure the promoters are incompetent. It may be that the usual suspects sometimes have a different set of goals than the ones that are publically proclaimed.

If one of the goals are short term, but repeatable at different construction jobs funded by public dollars, the usual suspects are accomplishing that goal. Its not jusy the contractors, but the construction trades unions making out well on these projects.

If one of the goals is for developers to obtain real estate at bargain basment prices, courtesy of the PDC, tha goal has been repeatedly accomplished.

If one of the goals is for the developers to use low interest rate public funds in place of commrcial loan rates, that goal is being accomplished.

If one of the goals is for a Metro pol
to move into a mcuh higher paying job with a local developer (and make no mistake, that is what OHSU has become) then that goal is being accomplished.

If one oF the goals is for a mid pay city bureaucrat overseeing tram construction to move into a higher paying job with the developers most benefited by the tram who's construction he was overseeing, then that goal is being accomplished.

If one of the goals is for local pols to maintain access to lots of campaign funds from developer and contractors , then that goal is being accomplished.

No, these folks are not incompetent. They are hyper competent. But their goals are not always readily apparent. The key is understanding the real goals and following the low of money and equity.

Me, cynical? Whatever gave you that idea?

"You guys who think Metro is going to sneak this through when you're not looking have it all wrong."

Tell me why this is any different from the Convention Center expansion. They run these trial balloons up to gauge public reaction which was ice-cold on the expansion (if you don't count the self-preservation instincts of POVA.)

Then Metro (or CoP or any other local govt) sneaks around and throws some money at the project outside of publice view and as Mr Bog says "it's too late we can't stop."

These guys are as mean and small as their thoughts and sneaky as hell. They will find a way to build that hotel.

Man, I wish your website came with a "rimshot" sound for when someone just nails it, in a really hilarious way like that.

Of course these people are very good at what they do, which is in essence, organized crime with our local Politburo's rubber stamp of approval.

It really is organized crime.

With oil reaching $100 a barrel I wonder how that will impact the travel industry?

Hmmmmm. I'll have to think that on thru. Maybe I could ask Rex? He'll know.


These guys are as mean and small as their thoughts and sneaky as hell. They will find a way to build that hotel.

And they will announce it at some convenient time when the public isnt paying attention...like about 4:30 on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

"How stupid is the public?"
DUM enough to re-elect these Bozo's Hey, is this part of the Sam,the scam and Bad smell Randy gang?

They just appointed a clone to fill Newman's postiion.
Big surprise the replacement was a Milwaukie city council woman who championed Milwaukie Light rail.
They probably asked her if she approved of the Hotel.

Oh the rewards for being a trooper.

Maybe I could ask Rex? He'll know.

Let them bike to the conventions!

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