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Heywood Sanders, professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio, and generally considered the ranking expert on convention centers, says he has been "misrepresented" in the San Diego Convention Center Task Force's annual report that has just been issued. Sanders has consistently stated that convention centers are vastly overbuilt and draining the cities that subsidize them. In fact, that is what he told the task force in May. Yet the report quotes him saying that past and potential customers have expressed interest in an expanded San Diego center; the center is operating at or above potential maximum potential; the center is losing business because of lack of space and dates, and there is risk of outgrowing the center. It picks up quotes that he made five years ago. Completely missing is the substance of his May report, he points out: the warnings about national overbuilding, financing problems, and in particular, his skepticism about statistics that come out of the convention center. Throughout the study, "There is stuff that so misrepresents reality it is appalling," says Sanders. The task force chooses the statistics that fit its purposes and ignores those that draw a picture of reality, says Sanders. "These are middle school games."

Of course, any sophisticated San Diegan knew this was coming. Every member of the task force except one is a cheerleader for corporate welfare -- heavily representing the tourism and real estate development industries.

At my request, Sanders will spend more time reading the study. I will call him Sunday for his analysis and post it on the blog that day.

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Comments

JustWondering Aug. 28, 2009 @ 8:40 p.m.

Let's hope this gets some traction....Mayor Sanders has stacked this task force with his cronies. So while Sanders fiddles, the city is projecting a deficit closing in on $100 MILLION DOLLARS.

Now let's review, Sanders wants a new City Hall, a new Library and a convention center expansion....this should run in the neighborhood of TWO BILLION DOLLARS... with, of course, no way to pay for it.

Wait... isn't TWO BILLION DOLLARS pretty close to the Unfunded Liability of the City's Pension System...

Wait... don't all but two labor groups have contracts for the next two years? So most of the City workers are protected from more give-backs for now.

Oh that's right our Mayor Sanders will be out-of-office soon and not responsible for one penny of the new debt.... wonder if he'll move out of San Diego after he leaves office? He'll avoid the tsunami of red ink headed toward San Diego and collect his pension benefits and full medical coverage too.

This is fiscal insanity!

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Don Bauder Aug. 28, 2009 @ 9:09 p.m.

Response to post #1: Good words: fiscal insanity. Even the thought that elected officials are mulling the prospect of these new projects while the City is broke should motivate the voters to throw the rascals out. Trouble is, voters don't run San Diego government. Real estate developers do. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Aug. 29, 2009 @ 7:19 a.m.

JustWondering wonders if "Mare" Sanders will leave San Diego after he leaves office. He well could, to take some other overpaid position in another governmental unit. (To get that, he would use his reputation as a "fixer" of problems in San Diego. Hilarious, huh? But very possible.) But if he leaves SD it will be in the tradition of former Mexican presidents, most of whom have gone into exile upon the inauguration of their successors. Look closely, and Sanders has a parallel career to most of them. He held positions in the police force, then moved into the arena of charitable institutions, and then became mayor. He has the press giving him credit for things he never did, while ignoring his malfeasance in office, and ignoring the true beneficiaries of his actions. Finally, he makes promises to the voters than cannot be kept. All of it just like Mexican presidents. The next logical step is exile upon leaving the Mayor's office.

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Don Bauder Aug. 29, 2009 @ 7:49 a.m.

Response to post #3: The betting is that Sanders will shoot for higher office -- the assembly, maybe even Congress. It is horrifying to contemplate: the guy is a do-nothing. Look at all the problems he has simply shelved, hoping to get out of office before they rise up to sink the City's finances. One of San Diego's biggest problems is that it is run by real estate developers. That cancer has grown on Sanders's watch. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 29, 2009 @ 9:09 a.m.

Wait... isn't TWO BILLION DOLLARS pretty close to the Unfunded Liability of the City's Pension System...

This is fiscal insanity!

By JustWondering

3%@50 is fiscal insanity.

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Burwell Aug. 29, 2009 @ 9:09 a.m.

If not for whiskey Jerry Sanders would have been elected President of the US by now. He can't help his Irish heritage.

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 29, 2009 @ 9:12 a.m.

Visduh, everything you said about "Mare" Sanders is true (I can't vouch for the Mexican President issues though).

Sanders hasn't done jack. All hot air.

And he has not been hurting on his eating portions either- he could stunt double for a summo wrestler, or even Shamu.

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Don Bauder Aug. 29, 2009 @ 10:44 a.m.

Response to post #50: JW and SurfPuppy are going at it again. I look forward to it. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 29, 2009 @ 10:46 a.m.

Response to post #6: If Sanders were president, I know two people who would shower him with praise: Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 29, 2009 @ 11:37 a.m.

Response to post #7: The old gray mayor he ain't what he used to be -- except that he never was much. Best, Don Bauder

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ExDiegan Aug. 29, 2009 @ 3:27 p.m.

Conventions are very good at several things:

1) Creating many temporary or seasonal low-paying service jobs. Most people forget for that every day of an active convention, there is a built-in move-in and move-out period of two days followed by many hiatus days between conventions. This is not a "normal" job for most unskilled workers.

2) Causing excess hotel capacity immediately around the convention center.

3) Creating endless municipal and state subsidies, since the highly competitive market for hosting conventions inevitably leads to bidding wars for high-profile customers such as political parties.

4) Corruption, caused by the unavoidable hiatuses between conventions. This leads unions and contractors to artificially maximize their income during the relatively few peak activity periods.

5) Most conventions only use part of a convention center. Very few customers book the entire building. This means that larger convention centers must book more conventions to sell their annual inventory of floor space. It is not unusual for some huge convention centers to book three or four different customers simultaneously and still have unsold facilities.

Build it and they will come? Who is "they"?

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Don Bauder Aug. 29, 2009 @ 5:09 p.m.

Response to post #11: These are very good points. Conventions are good, and provide low-pay jobs, but the irregularity of the process is upsetting to the economy. The price-cutting goes on because of the overbuilding. Is anybody pointing out that hotels in the area of the convention center are now doing extremely poorly? People seem to assume that this business will bounce back. But that could be a faulty assumption. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 29, 2009 @ 5:59 p.m.

I just checked the Chargers 08 season and I was wrong-they did not go 0-6, I don't know how I had that in my head.

They went 4-8 over the first 12 games and they needed to run the tables on the last 4 games to make the playoffs with an 8-8 record. 8-8 normally would not qualify for the playoffs..

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 29, 2009 @ 6:02 p.m.

Ignore the above comment. Posted it in the wronf thread- sorry.

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Richard_Rider Aug. 29, 2009 @ 6:47 p.m.

The convention center expansion PROCESS is designed to provide the desired outcome with as little dissent as possible. Such is the nature of these "task force" oddities in San Diego.

We had such a "task force" for the downtown ballpark where almost EVERY MEMBER of the the appointed group were Padre SEASON TICKET HOLDERS!

Whatever the merits of such projects are, the task force conclusions cannot in any way be relied upon as meaningful vetting of these issues.

In order to fund this convention center expansion, bonds will have to be issued. You'd THINK that both the state constitution and our city charter requires a vote of the public. Sadly, the courts have backed government slight-of-hand maneuvers that bypass any such stinkin' vote.

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Fred Williams Aug. 30, 2009 @ 12:42 a.m.

It's amazing that in San Diego, after all we've been through, the exact same jokers with phoney numbers are appointed to yet another task force to falsify data supporting a preordained conclusion.

http://www.conventioncentertaskforce.org/taskforcemembers.shtml

Back in the sad-old UT days, Don Bauder gave sound advice to the ballpark task force:

http://userpages.umbc.edu/~coates/news_1b4.htm

They didn't follow the advice, and now we've got the ballpork district, an economic albatross around the neck of San Diego for the rest of our lifetimes.

Professor Sanders testifies to today's task force, "Your numbers are so weird they cause a conundrum."

Task force reports to the mayor, "San Diego is so unique and wonderful that our numbers are a delightful conundrum, and besides that anyone who disagrees...is just a whack job."

Professor Sanders, renowned nationally as an expert on convention centers economic performance, is scoffed at by the task force during his testimony:

  • Gonzales: "Have you actually been in a convention center?"

  • Maas: "I’m curious, have you ever been wrong? Share it please."

Eighth-grade level insults coming from Maas, the alleged head of CCDC, the notorious redevelopment agency that is mired in fraud and blatant misuse of federal, state, and local tax funds...and Lorena Gonzales, the labor boss who is best known for blocking Donna Frye for council president. (Lorena's been quite plumply rewarded by her political masters since that election.)

The other board members, Cushman, Evans, Nelson, Steele...look them up online and find that behind every bad idea in this city, you'll find these guys standing in a row with pom poms, high kicking and flashing their panties while the rubes get robbed yet again...

San Diego ought to be sharpening pitchforks for these jerks...not appointing them to yet another sham task force to shame our once proud city.

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Don Bauder Aug. 30, 2009 @ 7:06 a.m.

Response to post #16: Excellent points, Richard. The public is told that the so-called "task forces" will objectively study a proposal and come up with a balanced recommendation, including suggestions on how the project will be financed. But the answer is foreordained. Invariably, all you have to do is look who is named to the task force and you know what the report will be. It was the same with the charter review committee. It was packed with lobbyists for real estate developers. The outcome was known before a single meeting was held. And as you point out, the ballpark and stadium committees were the same: stacked. In each case, the Union-Tribune lied to the community by saying that these committees consisted of honest, reputable citizens who would come up with a valid report. This is one more way by which the real estate development industry runs San Diego, and has toady mayors such as Jerry Sanders in its pocket. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 30, 2009 @ 7:16 a.m.

Response to post #16: (My response to Richard Rider, above, should be #15.) Another excellent piece of prose by Fred Williams. CCDC should be abolished. The use of redevelopment funds to build commercial structures in non-blighted areas, therefore lining the pockets of developers, should lead to criminal investigations. Short of that, there should be legislation to make sure that the redevelopment process is no longer a vehicle for corporate welfare. Trouble is, San Diegans don't find out about such abuses. Most don't even know what a drain the ballpark is on San Diego finances. The media don't cover it. They are kept. Best, Don Bauder

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