By Doug Porter
San Diego’s tourism moguls have been playing with numbers again and that’s always a scary prospect.
Last year we heard all about how the local economy was headed for doom and devastation unless the anointed magnates of the trade were allowed to spend a big pile of money collected via a fee-that-was-not-a-tax facing significant legal challenges. The ex-Mayor-who-cannot-be-named thought it might be reasonable to ask some protection for taxpayers should hoteliers lose their case.
Now we’re hearing about “hotel-ageddon” because of legal challenges connected with the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center. City Council members sitting on the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee heard the bad news yesterday. One convention booked for 2016 is reconsidering, we’re told, another “might be”, and -gasp-even though they haven’t said anything, the almighty lords of ComicCon are concerned.
The fourteen conventions that actually are going elsewhere because of the high costs of hotels in in America’s Finest City ‘can be replaced by other groups’, according to Joe Terzi, president of the San Diego Tourism Authority.
From City News Service via CBS8:
According to the report, the New York Life Insurance Company chose Dallas for its August 2015 convention because San Diego was perceived as too expensive. The firm would have brought around 3,800 attendees. AVID Center, which plans a July 2015 event with 3,000 people, said its attendees can’t afford downtown hotel rates, the report says.
The American Traffic Safety Services Association, with 2,000 people slated to attend a January 2017 conference, also cited high hotel costs. It bypassed San Diego in favor of Phoenix.
Similar reasons were cited by groups like the Minerals Research Society, the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and other groups, the report said.
City News Service coverage had two different versions of this story. Both are based on the same report. The early day version, posted at CBS8 had the following lede:
Fourteen organizers of major future trade shows are bypassing San Diego because of high costs while two others expressed concern about the timeline of the planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, according to a report to be presented to a City Council committee Wednesday morning.
Here’s the spin later in the day after being presented at city hall, as posted (same news service) at KPBS and SanDiego6 news:
Bookings for major trade shows and other meetings at the San Diego Convention Center are on pace to meet targets for this fiscal year, but challenges exist that could cost the facility large events in the future — maybe even the home-grown Comic-Con International, tourism officials said Wednesday.
An article in Voice of San Diego last fall suggests that the court challenges to the funding scheme for the convention center expansion will last until 2015.
Here’s City Attorney Jan Goldsmith on its legality in an different VOSD article, when asked if the expansion plan could succeed in court:
I’m not going to go more than 50-50. I don’t know. I have no idea. I don’t think it is clearly illegal. If it was, I wouldn’t have allowed them to go forward. I think a comparable plan was approved in San Jose. I think that if San Diego’s plan is approved, it is something that would probably be used around California quite a bit.
At issue with the funding mechanism for expansion is the fact that the tax revenues (a different set than talked about earlier in the article) were enacted without taxpayer approval.
I wouldn’t trust those tourism spin doctors any further than I could throw them. Not only are they gambling with the legality of their funding, they’re also building into a buyers market for convention planners.
As Atlantic Cities noted back in 2012 via an article centered on the wisdom of continuing to spend $2.4 billion (most of it in tax dollars) annually on convention facilities nationally.
But there’s a problem with this building bonanza, and it’s a doozy: There aren’t really enough conventions to go around. The actual number of conventions hosted in the U.S. has fallen over the last decade. Attendance at the 200 largest conventions peaked at about 5 million in the mid-1990s and has fallen steadily since then.
More business as usual in San Diego.
Moving on Up on the Minimum Wage
As promised, Councilpersons Todd Gloria, Marti Emerald, Myrtle Cole and Sheri Lightner appeared at a downtown rally yesterday, promising to place a measure on the November ballot that would increase the minimum wage in San Diego and allow employees to have five sick days.
“No one should have to choose between a job and caring for a sick loved one, and hard-working people should be able to afford to live in the city they love,” said Council President Gloria. “I’ve heard from residents and business people and understand better than ever that earned sick days and an increase in the minimum wage are good for local families and the economy. These are critical components of adequate workplace standards in America’s finest city.”
They told the “Raise Up San Diego” rally of more than a hundred people they would be sending a memo to Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other council members, saying their goal was to place a measure before voters that:
- provides a “meaningful” but unspecified increase in the minimum wage for all people working in San Diego;
- ties the pay rate to a cost-of-living index that would be updated annually;
- allows a phase-in period that gives more time for small businesses and nonprofits to raise pay;
- gives five days of earned sick leave for all employees, regardless of industry or business type.
Pressed for more details, Council President Todd Gloria responded on Twitter yesterday:
“That’s still TBD. Hourly rate will be determined via public input, as will phase in & other factors”.
The proposal will be presented on March 24th to the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.
Issa Screwed Up, Says Legal Analyst
From The Hill:
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) blew his chance to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress at a hearing last week, according to a new legal analysis being circulated by Democrats.
The analysis, written by Morton Rosenberg, formerly of the Congressional Research Service, says that Issa dropped the ball by not making it clear to Lerner that she risked contempt by not answering his questions.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, sent the analysis to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday. “It appears that his actions last week in closing down the hearing had significant negative legal consequences that now bar the House of Representatives from successfully pursuing contempt proceedings,” Cummings wrote.
AND Issa had to apologize for his behavior. Keep up the good work, Congressman.
A Christian Cure for the Obamacare Death Panels
Finally, there’s this bit of news to share, via blogger Proglegs over at Daily Kos:
A Christian group called the Dead Raising Team (DRT) in Washington state claims it has successfully raised 11 people from the dead. And it’s in search of more bodies to perform its miraculous resurrections on.
Tyler Johnson, the group’s founder, says his group follows the exhortations of verses found in the gospel of Matthew and uses the power of prayer–along with their sweet tshirts–to reunite grieving family members with their recently departed loved ones….
…Johnson is now working hard to franchise his Dead Raising Teams:
If you would like fulfill Jesus’ commandment in Matthew 10:8 to raise the dead, send us an email and we will help you to start a Dead Raising Team in your city. Starting a DRT is very simple, and causes heaven to applaud. The DRT is available to come to your fellowship and do a “School of Resurrection Power” if you so desire.
I think we can assume there might be a nominal fee involved.
Somebody posted this video from Monty Python in the comments. Enjoy:
On This Day: 1918 – Women were scheduled to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York due to a shortage of men due to wartime. 1925 – A law in Tennessee prohibited the teaching of evolution. 2004 – Luciano Pavarotti gave his final opera performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He still had concerts planned up until October 12, 2005.
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