Monday, June 09, 2008

TIF for TAT – Rio No Huevos

Tucson, Arizona. In what I would bet occurs as betrayal to someone, Mike Hein has decided that the $28M purchase and $47M renovation of the Hotel Arizona is “too expensive,” while dropping $17M for 6.7 acres of land and $200M for a new Sheraton is money well spent. Since when did cost effectiveness figure into any of these conversations? Until shown otherwise, I now find it impossible to avoid the conclusion that every decision is the one that either maximizes delay of actual expenditures or strokes one of the anointed cloth meisters.

The city is getting ready to pass its $1.3 B budget. We apparently don’t have enough money to fund a police force, but we can stuff the coffers of agencies like TREO and MTCVB with millions to pretend to make a difference in what? People coming to Tucson during the winter? People retiring in Arizona? Entrepreneurs building a warehouse, sweat shop, or Walmart in town to exploit the uneducated, slave wage workforce? I’m not saying we don’t need economic development or tourism agencies, but look at what those people get paid and what they actually produce. To really knock your socks off, take the freeway in either direction to another community and compare economic development results against agency budgets.

Now, oil and gas prices spiking to record levels (will only get worse) combined with the end of Eggplant’s suppression of scientific research will lead to unprecedented interest in green technology and alternative energy. The Southwestern United States is SolarCon Valley. The sun pours enough energy into Arizona and Southern California to run half the planet. People will notice and we are now looking at sooner as opposed to later. The University of Arizona, which has real research by real people leading to real results, has secured real grants to do things like go to Mars and conduct bio-medical research. I'll skip the cloth meister speeches taking credit for the work of others.

Tucson’s downtown needs a bookstore at least as good as the Border’s on Oracle or the Barnes and Noble in the Foothills Mall. It needs retail worth visiting and restaurants worth frequenting near the bookstore and a theater complex with over a dozen screens. The Congress Street Stakeholders understood this. Not long ago, Albuquerque and Tucson were pretty much the same when it came to matters downtown. Tucson got TIF and chose cloth. Albuquerque chose results and got them.

UPDATE: The more I think about this turn of events, the more it smells and the less I think the Andrea Kelly Star Article captures what is really going on. Cost effectiveness and proper pricing have nothing to do with this situation. Teya Vitu has another Rio Nuevo piece that is worth checking out.

This reeks of cloth. Perhaps more later.


Anonymous observer said...

I suppose this news is not especially surprising. If you want to really feel wonderful, travel back 11-12 years to when they selected the location of the TEP baseball park.

You will learn that Mayor Miller wanted the park built downtown and that the downtown location would have been a lot less expensive (savings greater than $10M).

Why do you think they chose the Kino location?

6/09/2008 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I mistaken, or is this the fourth or fifth time they said they were going to do something and then canceled it?

They were going to a bridge, right? Then they were going to do a science center. Then they were going to do condo thing. Then they were going to do a big tower. Then they were going to do an arena. Then they were going to do this hotel. Now they say they will do a different hotel?

In six months to a year, the headline reads, "Hein cancels Sheraton because it is too expensive."

Today's project is tomorrow's cancellation. What are they doing with the money?

6/09/2008 3:05 PM  
Blogger TexPatriate said...

"Today's project is tomorrow's cancellation. What are they doing with the money?"

I think that is the most relevant and pointed question that should be asked of EVERY ONE of these boards. Loudly. Publicly.

And followed up on.

6/09/2008 5:36 PM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...

I don't know a lot about downtown, but this looks like the downtown version of what Cloth, Inc. did to SAIAT. In your case, TREO got the funds.

Here, someone else does.

Like TREO's nonsense, this has nothing to do with what is best for the community. Like yourself, I'll bet people operating on good faith have been betrayed by dishonest and dishonorable people.

This is cloth serving cloth.

6/09/2008 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone needs to ask Mike Hein why he didn't bond against the TIF revenue stream 18 months ago when economic times were good and they could have gotten at least $550M, as they said at the time.

He and his buddy have squandered tens of millions of public dollars simply by delaying that one step. Now he's forced to pull back.

Is the state legislature paying attention to this fiasco? With the state facing a $1 billion deficit, my guess is that they are.

6/09/2008 9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to see an accounting of how much has been brought in by TIF, where the account stands, and where it has been spent. Is there a way to order an independent audit? Who can do that? Does our state have an auditor?

6/10/2008 1:28 PM  

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