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  • SHUT IT DOWN, NOW!

    Posted on May 10th, 2012 Becky 17 comments

    VERY FEW OPTIONS!    

        “The number of events held at the Penn Square meeting center is well within industry standards and the number is growing.”

        What the F does that mean? The standard in the CC industry is FAILURE. With very few exceptions, these centers fail. Then they enlarge themselves and then they fail even bigger. We were supposed to be “different.”  We were supposed to piggyback on our tourism success and EXCEED industry standards. After that, we were supposed to see even more tourism by all those happy conventioneers that would return with their families.
        I guess that was all a load of BS because we are simply “within industry standards.”  Furthermore, with revenue from hotel taxes WELL BELOW projected levels, we don’t seem to be generating too many rooms before, during, or after (immediately or down the road) these conventions. They keep talking about events. Events don’t pay for this center…hotel rooms do and those are not the type of events that we seem to be attracting.
        This would be comical if it were not so sad. I am all for a County restaurant and sales tax. We were stupid enough to allow this to happen and now we need to take our medicine or close the place or bring in the slots…the options are not endless.
        Next time that you see them, please make sure you thank the following folks for the “gift”: Gib Armstrong, Mike Sturla, Paul Thibault, Ron Ford, Terry Kauffman, Charlie Smithgall, Rick Gray, Julie Dickson, Steve Diamantoni, Nelson Polite, Jim Pickard, Ted Darcus, the top brass at LNP, Rufus Fulton, Dale High, Nevin Cooley, Mark Fitzgerald, Tom Smithgall, Tom Baldridge, and John Esbenshade.
    A comment posted under today’s story, “Lancaster County Convention Center funding urged,” (click here).
        Very well said and so very sad. I think you should move the Lancaster Newspapers to the top of the “thanks” list, though. Maybe Sunday News editor Marv Adams could make up the difference out of his own pockets? After all, he told us the chance of this happening was the same as “a huge volcano erupting in Pequea Township.”
        And I notice our now Coroner, Steve Diamantoni, is in your list! I’ll have more about him later today….

     

    17 responses to “SHUT IT DOWN, NOW!”

    1. http://lancasteronline.com/blogs/smartremarks/2012/05/09/center-of-attention/

      “In other words, those “irrationally exuberant” projections from way back when? Toss them out.”

      “It was more or less admitted that the convention center isn’t generating
      too many room nights for hotels outside the city, and won’t.”

      “The convention center is already technically in default.”

    2. Rather than an increased hotel tax, or a restaurant tax or a 1% sales tax, all of which impact ‘innocent bystanders’….let’s TAX the guilty culprits who brought this white elephant to fruition in the first place. Every name mentioned above shares a role in this fiasco…THEY should be the ones held accountable. THEY should be the ones to ‘make things right’. THEY should be the ones to assure a sustainable future that does NOT negatively impact the hotel/restauarant industry, or city/county taxpayers. We pay good money to have elected city/county officials….those same officials should see to it those THOSE WHO ARE GUILTY will be the ones that ARE PENALIZED…not the innocent!!!

    3. I’m with you, Rednek! But these idiots are going to keep pouring our money into this white elephant! We seriously need to form a group and stop that from happening!

    4. Please let me know if you’re serious about forming a group. I don’t have all that much free time any more, and Ron Harper is basically out of circulation, so you would need a core group to take ownership of the issue and run with it.

    5. Artie, I am very serious. Give me a couple of days as I have a whole lot going on – but I will get back to you. Rednek, would you be interested or know anyone who would be?

    6. Hi Becky…Let me know where when and how. I have no political connections or ‘pull’, I’m just a simple taxpaying countian who wants to see fairness for all.

    7. Very good! I’ll check in with Robert at NewsLanc and put a general notice on my site in a couple of days! Power to the people! 😛

    8. COUNT ME IN!!

    9. EXCELLENT!

    10. Rednek: so was I, before protesting the taxpayer-financed hotel and convention center project got me involved in local politics. I was blocked from being endorsed for City Council (because of my vocal stand on the hotel and convention center), but I’m now quite busy on the SDoL School Board.

      Becky: I’ve got a lot of background and current information, maybe I can help out in an advisory role.

    11. Becky, a referendum could be launched, signatures gathered, and a vote could be forced by Lancaster countians. Lancaster is a third class city and because of that residents have the right to write something to be considered a referendum and then be put up to general vote.

      It seems to me that the hoteliers have a lot to gain by this and might be interested in doing so.

      It should have been done before the W&S building was torn down but I feel that Lancastrians didn’t actually know (or care) that they had this right.

      This has been done in other cities, third class or not, where the law allows the populace to mount a referendum and a special election to decide on it.

    12. PS – where the hoteliers in Lancaster lost the suit to stop this taxation in the beginning, other cities and other judges have ruled in favor of the hoteliers.

      But of course if it doesn’t involve sex, most people don’t pay much attention. The Marriott is the largest puveyor of in room porn. Maybe some prom kids will rent a room, cause a problem and blame it on the in room movie they watched. Interesting too that the Marriotts do not offer the porn in Utah in their hotels.

    13. To huh?: I can’t find records of a single lawsuit where the hoteliers actually “lost”. Every one I’ve looked into were partial rulings (usually a restraining order without a ruling on the merits of the case), dismissed on a technicality, or (most often) a court ruling that the plaintiff did not have standing in the case.

      The last major lawsuits ended when the LCCCCA threatened to counter-sue; since (at the time) the LCCCA had an unlimited amount of taxpayer dollars at its disposal, the plaintiffs could have easily been bankrupted by the LCCCA’s legal maneuvering.

      Note that the “agreements” forced upon the LCCCA by the PSP now barely allow the authority (separate from the convention center) enough funds to operate. The LCCCA has two people on staff who are doing the work of four or more, and event then are forced to pinch pennies. It is SO bad that the executive director and the office manager must go out and pick up the trash in the Swan parking lot. They’ve even personally provided curtains for windows in the historic Smith properties! There is intentionally NO money available for the LCCCA to hire legal counsel to investigate its own past, or to question the “agreements” which continue to rape and pillage taxpayers.

    14. Artie: I was referring to where the Lancaster county hoteliers opposed being taxed to help pay for the convention center and if I am remembering correctly the judge ruled against the Lancaster hoteliers. Am I mixing apples and oranges or wasn’t that the case?

    15. It is correct to say that whatever the future of the Con is-shut down or not shut down, the taxpayers are on the hook for the loan paybacks?

    16. huh?: Unfortunately, I don’t have all the details of all of the lawsuits. Over 100 of the original plaintiffs were removed from the lawsuit through the LCCCA’s lawyers claiming they didn’t have standing in the case; of course the newspaper reported these as court victories. Ditto for the lawsuits that ended because the LCCCA threatened to bankrupt the plaintiffs through endless counter-suits; again the newspapers claimed these were legal wins by the LCCCA. And the largest lawsuits – at least the ones I’ve been able to collect information about – were all ended by a judge making a ruling about a peripheral issue, NEVER ON THE MERITS OF THE CASE ITSELF. If there were any outright legal victories by the LCCCA, which is clearly possible, I’m not aware of any.

      Note that since the construction loans were finalized, the LCCCA has had ZERO funds available to fight a real lawsuit. If someone has deep enough pockets, now would be the right time to contest the “agreements”. But would the PSP fight back, given their apparently tenuous financial position? Unknown.

    17. William H.: yes, Lancaster County taxpayers have been on the hook ever since lame-duck county commissioners Thibault and Kauffman approved the county’s guarantee of $20 million in construction bonds. Without this guarantee – the legality of which is doubtful – Dick Shellenberger and Molly Henderson would have been able to stop the project.

      The problem for taxpayers is this: which $20 million are taxpayers guaranteeing? There really is no way to legally isolate any one part of the construction loans from any other.

      So yes, you are correct, Lancaster County residents are ultimately responsible for all of the LCCCA’s debt. And thanks to Charlie Smithgall’s agreement to take ownership of the hotel tower, Lancaster City residents are ultimately responsible for the remaining $38 million or so in hotel construction debt. And Lancaster City doesn’t have nearly as many people to spread the additional tax burden around.

      My GUESS is that if the hotel were to close, Lancaster City would be forced to take out a long-term bond sale to pay off the hotel’s construction debts. The money certainly doesn’t exist otherwise, and payments on the existing debt are greater than the City’s budget could handle without a substantial real estate tax increase.