John Locke Update / Research Newsletter

Hate to say “I told you so,” but …

posted on in Local Government

Back in September 2008, before its doors opened, we predicted that the new Raleigh Convention Center would become a taxpayer-funded money pit, and it has. That was not a difficult prediction. All city convention centers, with the exception of Las Vegas’s and Orlando’s for obvious reasons, are money pits paid for by a never-ending flow of taxpayer money. Also predictably the highly paid "professional" consultants never told the city council or the public that fact.

Now that the shine has worn off the facility, convention center officials are asking for $750,000 to bribe organizations to use the $200 million facility. The good news is that the Raleigh City Council approved a one-time $150,000 addition to the slush fund. The bad news is the council voted to spend $316,000 to cover expenses for next year’s NHL All-Star Game. Well, I guess both are bad news for taxpayers.

Our September 2008 report "The New Raleigh Convention Center: A taxpayer-funded money pit" provides an analysis of the winners and losers created by the facility.

The only possible bright spot for taxpayers is, the Wake County Commission will have to put its stamp of approval on these deals, and it meets on September 20.

NIMBY-ism and Moderate-Speed Rail in Raleigh

The moderate-speed (55-75 mph) rail system continues to be an issue in Raleigh. The NIMBY (not in my backyard) efforts of the Five Points neighborhood residents seem to have worked, at least temporarily. The City Council voted to delay the decision.

As I pointed out in this recent Carolina Journal article, the best way to settle the dispute over the route through town is to cancel the entire project. That way everyone’s backyard wins. "Moderate-speed" rail, pushed by the Obama administration, is all cost and no benefit. Or to be more accurate, it is all cost for low- and moderate-income taxpayers and some benefit for wealthy downtown business and government elites who will find center-city-to-center-city travel more convenient. So much for Obama’s "progressive" policy agenda.

Michael Sanera is Director of Research and Local Government Studies at the John Locke Foundation. He served as a policy analyst for the Washington, DC based The Heritage Foundation, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the California based Claremont Institute. ...

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