Here's most of Kenn's report from last Tuesday's Columbus City-Council meeting:
"Tuesday evening I attended the Columbus City Council meeting ...
. . . It was disheartening.
I arrived early and sat through a session in which two council members quizzed a representative of the Indigo Hotel chain. He was seeking a tax abatement for a new hotel.
The owner of a competing motel rose to protest: An abatement would give Indigo an unfair advantage over other inns. The owner was politely asked to sit down and be quiet until the full council met.
During the regular council meeting, the owner of the competition rose again to protest. He was accompanied by two others; one the manager of a downtown hotel that is located near the site of the new competition. The manager noted that the effort to revitalize downtown by giving his competitor a tax abatement would cause his business to suffer and, in so doing, would actually hurt the downtown revitalization project.
The owner of another hotel rose to express her outrage. A council member hushed her with a reminder that their concern was the downtown project, not their personal business enterprises. Unfazed, she stood again and reasserted her views. I was extremely proud of her courage.
The final vote: 8 yea. 0 nay. Republicans and Democrats all agreed to stifle free market competition by awarding a $million+ tax abatement to a well-heeled and wealthy corporation.
The inn owners/managers left after the vote. I followed them out the door and caught up with two of them outside city hall. They welcomed my conversation. The manager of one motel noted that he needed 70 percent occupancy to survive. When I asked if there was a demand for motel rooms, both manager assured me there was no such demand. We all agreed that the city's effort to prop up the downtown area through tax abatements was a waste. The market (that's really people, by the way) simply don't want to shop downtown.
Republicans; Democrats. There is no difference."