If nothing else, North Hills developer John Kane has put Mayor Meeker over a political barrel.
Mr. Kane has asked the City Council to agree to provide $75 million in public financing to help him build a parking deck at North Hills. Mayor Meeker, apparently, doesn’t want to do that. But he has a problem. He’s already supported millions in subsidies for businesses downtown, so how can he turn Kane down without it looking like he has a double standard. That he’s for subsidies downtown but no where else.
At first, the Mayor’s allies on the Council tried to get out of the corner Mr. Kane put them in by arguing that public subsidies – like Mr. Kane’s – ought only to go to businesses in blighted areas. But that won’t fly because, after all, how did subsidizing a new Marriott Hotel downtown help the poor?
Next the City Council said that before it decides on Mr. Kane’s proposal it needs to conduct a study to establish a new set of rules and policies to govern public financing of private businesses.
But, the Mayor and his allies on the City Council didn’t feel the need for a study, or new policies, when they subsidized a hotel, supermarket and restaurant downtown. The Mayor’s study is a political dodge. A nice long study gets Mayor Meeker and company off the hook. It’s a way for them to tell John Kane no without, well, really telling him no.
The bottom line for Mr. Kane is simple: He might as well give up. That study is as good as a no. For Mayor Meeker it’s better than a no. It’s a way for him to turn Kane down without having to explain why he supports subsidies for businesses downtown – but not a few miles away at North Hills.
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