Saturday, May 26, 2007

It's the Hotel, Stupid....

If Friday's "Politics and Lunch" is any measure, then in Macon, the hot political topic for Council candidates will be the hotel, or, as I learned on Friday, the "convention hotel." For months, council and the mayor have been trying to agree and move forward on a plan to build a new hotel beside or near the Macon Centreplex. To the general public, "beside or near" is the crux of the issue, with strong public sentiment on the side of "near," as in, across the street. While the issue is far from that simple, most people's eyes start to glaze over about two sentences in to an explanation of the bonds and the cost vs. benefits of one plan over the other. All the average voters knows is (1) the hotel is not built; (2) they don't know where everyone's going to park if it is built on the property with the Centreplex; and 3) the hotel is not built.
The hotel issue resonates with voters because it exemplifies the problems with city government. This was a project that had the potential to benefit the city, and it got mired down in the sort of politics that keeps the city from moving forward. People seem to feel that the hotel is not built because of the disagreements between Mayor and Council, and voters feel that Council has not been responsive to their wishes on the matter. We'll see if voters really care enough about this to get up and vote in July.

On Friday four City Council candidates, Moffett, Benedict, Ellington and Hutto, showed up with almost zero notice and then fielded questions from the smaller-than-usual-because-everyone-was -headed-to-the-beach group. Nearly every question was about the proposed hotel. Here's the summary from Matt Barnwell with the Telegraph.

Thanks to the candidates who came. Do not fault those who were not there. We had a late change in speaker, thus quick change in program, so not all candidates got notice. Some who did get notice had other obligations.

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