by Dan Richardson
Perhaps the most damaging allegation, and one of the easiest for critics to fling, is that this convention center expansion plan is just another River Park Square.
Does this expansion have the potential to dissolve into competing claims of financial obligations and lawsuits and become a second canker on the community's public life?
The answer is no.
Or at least, probably not, because the convention center expansion has some significant differences from RPS. Among them:
- PUBLIC The developer/operator in this case is a public entity, the Public Facilities District, and instead of being run by shareholders or a CEO responsible for returning a profit, it's directed by five volunteer board members.
- DELIBERATIVE RPS was conceived in private and rushed past the public. CCX has been years in the making, with dozens of public meetings and a citizens' committee that produced a 400-page report.
- VOTE The Spokane City Council agreed to RPS on an emergency basis, and the public never got to vote on the deal. For CCX to happen, not only must the City Council approve it, but so must the county commissioners, the Public Facilities District board and, on May 21, the voters of Spokane County.
This is not to say there's no risk. As City Councilman Steve Corker said at a meeting looking at financial projections for the project, "Projections have gotten us in trouble in the past."
CCX supporters counter that their projections are conservative and that there's no upside for them in engaging in wishful thinking. RPS projections, as the passage of time has shown, were aggressively inflated.
And anti-RPS/anti-CCX activists should take note: Roy Koegen is the bond attorney for the Public Facilities District, confirms the PFD's executive director. Koegen was also bond counsel for the city of Spokane on the RPS project; he and his firm are now named in a cross-claim by the City of Spokane in its defense against claims brought by the RPS bondholders.