It should come as no surprise that Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston tried to strong-arm Mayor Bill Knight and Greensboro City Council members Nancy Vaughan and Danny Thompson on the taxpayer-financed downtown hotel, as Yes!Weekly’s Jordan Green reports. The fact that the council apparently will not make a motion to rescind the bonds might lead people to believe it worked.

I guess the possibility remains open that this deal never goes down. Heaven knows there have been a lot of those in Greensboro, most notably (in my opinion) the original private development of the Canada Dry property next to the Greensboro Coliseum. The city now owns the property, where it sits looking just like it did 10 years ago.

That might sound like I want the project to fail at any cost, but I’m just stating the fact that all this knashing of teeth will be over something that never comes to pass. And who knows where the so-called “federal stimulus bonds” where end up.

Which is why it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. As Meck Deck’s Jeff Taylor wrote about the controversy surrounding the Charlotte police force, this hotel deal is not “some quick gotcha moment.” The city has yearned to develop Lee Street and Elm for years, and they were vulnerable to developers with slick pitches about how to use all that good fed stimulus money. That vulnerability was Bridget Chisholm’s introduction to the market, even if Skip was able to squire her later.

Jeff also talks about “core competencies” of city government, and how we need to know that management of those core competencies are in “competent, judicious hands.” There’s no evidence of that here. The fact that John Hammer evoked ‘Mitch-management’ when describing the situation should scare everyone. I give council member Zack Matheny all credit for asking the right questions, but the bottom line is somebody screwed up somewhere, yet no one is being held accountable, just like always.

But what’s scariest is the way our local government has been rendered helpless, all for the sake of the ‘federal stimulus.’ And that’s what I’m thinking about as I sit here and listen to President Obama pitching his government shell game.