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As the city keeps marching toward a hike in hotel-room taxes to pay for an expansion of the Convention Center, the fate of the tax lies with hotel owners and a judge.
If hotel owners approve the tax hike, then the city can ask a judge if it was legal for them, and not city residents, to impose it.
But it’s not a one-hotel, one-vote situation. Hotels get a number of votes based on how much of the tax they’d generate.
That means one Maryland-based company that owns downtown’s two largest hotels and two others in the city might be able to swing the whole vote either for or against, but the public doesn’t know for sure since no one will say exactly how much voting power it has.
Big Votes Today on Convention Center
Yesterday, Liam Dillon reported on Twitter that he’d “never been to a more ridiculous public meeting.” He was watching the board of the Convention Center Corp. convene to decide whether to shift its sales and marketing operations to the Convention and Visitors Bureau. They continued the discussion.
But they will reconvene today and the City Council will also discuss the move.
This shift appears to be a condition of the hotel owners who are voting on whether to raise their guests’ taxes. If it doesn’t happen, it could threaten the expansion of the convention center.
The mayor’s office “is working as if this issue is a deal-breaker,” our Liam Dillon reports. He explains what’s going on and why you should care.
• In letters, Murtaza Baxamusa director of Planning and Development for the San Diego Building Trades Family Housing Corporation, says “the bottom line is that the Convention Center is doing such a good job that it has outgrown itself, and needs to be expanded. So why kill the golden goose?”
What are your thoughts on the project? You can log them here just as Baxamusa did.
Estimating Pension Reform (Prop. B’s) Savings
Just last week, on our weekly San Diego Explained segment with NBC 7 San Diego, Liam Dillon and Catherine Garcia explained the proposed freeze on pensionable pay for city employees. It’s a big part of the measure now known as Proposition B. But it’s not talked about nearly as much as the other big part: a provision that would switch new city employees to 401(k) style savings accounts as opposed to guaranteed pensions.
Now, according to the city’s Independent Budget Analyst, that freeze means the measure would save the city $950 million over 30 years. The switch to the 401(k) style plan would actually cost the city $13 million over that same period, KPBS reports. Here’s the IBA’s report.
The switch to a 401(k) style retirement system will not create savings because new employees’ pensions have already been reformed dramatically. In a recent column, Scott Lewis explored how this is a common problem with city reforms: When you do them only for future employees, the problem has a way of haunting you.
Schools Budget Chief Moves On
Ron Little, the chief financial officer of the San Diego school district, is resigning in order to take a job in Northern California. He’s been a key figure during the district’s financial turmoil in recent months, including a warning about possible insolvency that turned out to be overblown.
His last day will be April 30.
Dances Inspired by the Loo and the Dearly Departed
Trystan Loucado, 26, is inspired by the bathroom, that “great equalizer,” and wants his dance to explore how what we do in the loo — yes, even that icky stuff — says about us as humans.
Zaquia Salinas, who’s 21 and has been dancing since age 3, has death on the mind. In particular, a figure in some cultures that helps people move from this world to the next. “So we’ve been playing with that and what role does that play in the passage of your spirit into the other world and what happens to your body when your spirit leaves your body?”
And then there’s Melissa Adao, 32, who teaches hip-hop dance and wants to fuse that style with African and modern dance.
They’re all competitors in the San Diego Young Choreographers Showcase and Prize 2012. In our latest “Arts Embedded” series, we’re following them this week as they prepare for the contest next Sunday. Our first installment introduces the trio and explores the unusual topics that inspire two them.
Readers Respond to Curfew Sweeps Analysis
Last week, we crunched the numbers and found signs that curfew sweeps in some of San Diego’s roughest neighborhoods may not be having a major effect on juvenile crime rates. Our statistics don’t prove that the curfew sweeps are ineffective but do raise questions.
We’ve compiled reactions from readers, including a comment from assistant police chief Boyd Long: “Because of these operations, many families that were not, are now engaged with their kids and are less likely to have the heartache associated with their kids being involved in criminal activity as a victim or a suspect, narcotics usage or even worse.”
But local ACLU chief Kevin Keenan questions the sweeps: “what about the psychological effect and societal message of putting so many kids from only certain communities in handcuffs?”
Fact Check TV Tackles Fletcher’s Claims
Who’s on the Ballot
We now know who’s on the city ballot in June, the U-T reports. The four major mayoral rivals will be there, plus just one much-lesser-known candidate, an unemployed Republican. A bunch of potential also-rans didn’t make the cut in the mayor’s race.
Running unopposed are City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Councilman Todd Gloria and businessman Mark Kersey in the council district being vacated by Councilman Carl DeMaio. Councilmembers Sherri Lightner and Marti Emerald have opponents, and a foursome are running for a newly vacant seat.
Quick News Hits
• Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, who represents parts of San Diego, has introduced legislation to prevent spouses “convicted of rape or other violent sexual felonies from collecting spousal support, attorney fees, insurance benefits or other payments from the victim,” the Sacramento Bee reports.
• Kyle Hunter, a weatherman at Fox 5 San Diego, has recruited high-profile attorney Gloria Allred for an age and sex discrimination lawsuit, the NY Daily News reports. He claims two L.A. stations passed him by because he’s over 40 and not female.
I can’t think of anything I’ve been passed over for due to being in the same category as Hunter other than the Fairest of the Fair contest. But I’m still looking.
Update: We’ve corrected a reference to Assemblywoman Toni Atkins’ title.