The “Topgolf” project is one example of not picking your battles wisely and making sure you know how to count votes on the city council.
Mayor Tim Keller has vetoed the $2.6 million economic development package that would help Topgolf in constructing a $39 million entertainment complex at the site of the former Beach Waterpark.
It was front page news with an above the fold headline.
This is pointed out only because the Albuquerque Journal published such strong editorials in opposition to the top golf project.
The City Council vote was 8-1 to give the incentives after a 9-0 veto override Keller’s veto of a resolution expressing the city councils support.
You can expect the city council to once again override Keller’s veto.
Mayor Keller has called the incentive’s a “raw deal for taxpayers” which is probably the case.
However, Keller undercuts his own veto message when he says:
“From the beginning, we have expressed our desire to welcome Topgolf, but this project failed to meet our criteria for growing the local economy and creating good-paying jobs. While we were able to improve the deal, we’re still not there yet. … This deal also sends the wrong signal that we are prioritizing out-of-state companies over similar local efforts, and that a company can end-run an independent professional vetting process through a political process. It’s our job to protect taxpayers, and I know that we can do it better. We want to work together and take the time to get it this right.”
Democrat City Councilor Ken Sanchez, a major sponsor of the resolution, for his part said:
“The mayor says that ‘economic base jobs’ make Albuquerque’s economic pie bigger, well, generating more revenue from outside the city than inside is the very definition of growing Albuquerque’s economic pie.”
You can only be a taxpayer when you have money to spend.
When you do not have a job, you’re probably not interested in hearing economic doublespeak from government officials of creating high paying “economic based jobs”.
Eight out of nine city councilors have expressed strong support for the project arguing it will create 650 jobs, albeit short term and low paying, and that it will be a $39 million investment in Albuquerque’s future.
Democratic City Councilors Diane Gibson, Pat Davis, Isaac Benton, Ken Sanchez, Klaressa Pena and Cynthia Borrego will once again vote for the project over the Mayor’s veto proving the point once again that they are Democrats in Name Only acting like Republicans when they should be supporting the position of Mayor Keller so early in his administration.
I cannot recall a single Mayor who has been in office for just seven months where the city council has overridden a Mayor’s veto, especially a city council that has a super majority of 6 from the same political party.
This is one battle that may not be worth fighting over given the amount of the incentives involved.
$2.6 million is a lot of money, but in a $1 Billion-dollar budget, not much at all.
Keller is also going to need the City Council’s help big time when the Federal Transportation Administration does not come through with the $75 million grant for the ART Bus Project and taxpayers are going to be on the hook for the full $135 million.
But then again, the ART Bus project is a disaster of the Democrats own making when they went along blindly with the previous Republican Administration.
Mayor Keller needs to advocate a viable economic development plan the city council is willing to support and fund.
Otherwise we can expect the city council to ignore him and just consider the same old practice of awarding incentives to companies that will not produce economic base jobs.
For more see “Mayor Keller’s Lackluster Economic Development Department: