A negative word from an unexpected source: The Dallas Morning News editorialized that maybe having a referendum on the taxpayer-owned convention center hotel is a good idea, after all. Here's part of what was written: "The question is not whether the city needs a convention center hotel. It does. But many taxpayers rightly wonder if they're writing a blank check. The council's abrupt shift in plans from a public-private venture to a city-owned project came behind closed doors. City leaders scheduled a vote in record time, barely pausing to explain the details of the deal. Now several council members seem to be rolling their eyes and saying: Do we need to have a referendum on everything? Well, no. But when hundreds of millions of public dollars are in play, it's not a bad idea."
That has been my argument for the past few months: We need a convention center hotel, but do we as taxpayers really need to build, own and operate it ourselves? Was there really enough input on this deal to justify the supersonic speed with which it shot through the council? And why did so many councilmen vote for the deal without feeling any need to prove to their constituents that spending $550 million or more of taxpayer money is the only way to go.
One interesting note: Nowhere in the convention center hotel editorial was the name "Tom Leppert" or the word "mayor" mentioned. The DMN hasn't been shy about calling out DISD Supt. Michael Hinojosa by name for his institution's screwups, but Leppert has been getting a free pass on the secretive convention center hotel decision, as well as the whole Ross-Industrial-Chavez fiasco. The editorial clearly points out that what happened with the hotel plan probably wasn't appropriate; it just seems odd the paper continues to give Leppert a "pass" on directly criticizing him, even though he's the guy who drove the semi right over the few people downtown who wanted to slow the hotel project down.
Leppert might want to watch his back, though: Hinojosa was above media reproach awhile back, too. And look what has happened to him...