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I wanted to wrap up last night’s Convention Center task force vote in favor of expansion by following a flap I covered on Friday.

Heywood Sanders, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio and critic of convention center expansions, said his positions were “thoroughly mischaracterized” in the report the task force considered last night. Convention Center Corp. spokesman Steven Johnson replied by calling Sanders a “whack job” whose arguments the task force had evaluated and dismissed.

Last night, task force member Mike McDowell, who said he was responsible for some of the sections that aroused some of Sanders’ ire, opened up the meeting by asking for a few “corrections.” The report had stated Sanders, “characterized San Diego as a ‘conundrum,’ because it did not fit his profile of failing or failed convention centers across the country.” The second part of that sentence shouldn’t have been attributed to the professor, McDowell said.

“That was an editorial comment on my part and it seems to have gotten a little bit of attention so we’ll take it out and we’ll end with his word, ‘conundrum,’” McDowell said.

Sanders was referenced 12 times in the report, excessive for some task force members who believed they shouldn’t spill so much ink on rebutting a critic.

There was also some discussion on whether Sanders, who presented to the task force in May and is writing a book on the convention center industry, should be considered an “expert.” Task force member Bob Nelson was unimpressed.

“I don’t think the man’s an expert,” Nelson said. “He’s the least expert who ever testified among us, including members of the public.”

Most of the remaining references to Sanders stayed in the report.


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