Mayor White: Just give me $16 million for soccer stadium land and don't ask any questions (updated!)

Remember when Mayor White and Council extended a long-term no-bid airport concession contract last fall? And recall how Mayor White said he'd learned his lesson about transparency?

He didn't really mean it:

James Rodriguez, who represents Lambert’s area, and Anne Clutterbuck, a soccer fan, say they’d at least like to have a public hearing before spending $16 million on a possible stadium site.

But Mayor Bill White says it’s too early for public input.

“I think it’s fair if there’s a particular plan or proposal, which there’s not right now, to talk to the neighbors and the people who live right along there,” White said.

Nope, no particular plan or proposal. Just $16 million for a speculative land buy.

Except that taxpayer money is involved, Mayor White. If the mayor was buying the land with his own money, that would be different, but taxpayers have a right to ask questions about where their money is going.

Then, as noted here in the forum, Rad Sallee has a story in today's Chron that quotes Bob Eury (head of the Downtown Houston Management District) saying Metro will have no problem rerouting light rail tracks around the (speculative?) stadium. Eury also said any extra cost Metro would incur to change routing would be offset by added ridership the stadium would attract.

Right.

As FilioScotia wrote in the forum:

Metro will do this to keep the Mayor and the downtown business crowd happy, but it won't adjust the rail route on the west side to make residents along Richmond happy?

Yep, that's how it works.

UPDATE: A story on Chron.com says the vote has been delayed, and Mayor White has blinked:

Mayor Bill White said he could not rule out the possibility of some public funds being used for the stadium's construction. But he will negotiate for the Dynamo's owners to absorb the entire cost, he said.

But of course!

MORE: Let's visit the archives. This is from November 20, 2007:

White is seeking a deal that would not require the city to contribute public money. While AEG's proposal calls for the company to bear most of the construction costs, it still would require the city to provide millions of dollars in needed infrastructure improvements, city and team officials said.

This is from January 9, 2008:

"It's not going to be done the way it was done with other stadiums, where the taxpayers picked up the tab," said White said.

And this is from January 14, 2008:

Mayor Bill White said he doesn't want public funds used for the actual stadium construction.

And here's Oliver Luck from way back in 2005:

And among the first promises [newly named club president Oliver] Luck announced was a most important one that every sports fan should note: A soccer-specific stadium here would not be financed like every other sports mansion on the local landscape.

Financing will not be another tax burden on citizens.

Goooooaaaaalllll!

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 02/20/08 07:20 PM | Print |

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