Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Questions - Take Two

Would you work with AEG to attract an NHL or NBA team to Downtown?

Of course I want to see the new arena occupied by an NHL or NBA team, but I would not want to accomplish that in a way that straps the city so financially that we’ve got a team surrounded by blocks of dead space. I am not familiar with all the details of the city’s agreement with AEG concerning the arena. It appears that AEG has 20 percent of the ownership and 100 percent of the control. It’s a shotgun wedding, but that’s who we’ve got, and I’d like to make the marriage work. I’m sure we’ll be able to cooperate to fill that arena and inject more life into downtown.

What would you do as mayor with the city manager and council in order
to attract more big (and small) businesses back to Downtown?

We have to work together to make downtown hip and cool and interesting and fun. I’m not smart enough, and nobody is, to figure this out by myself. We have to include ideas from the creative class, the lesbian and gay community, the business community, and anyone else who might have something to add. We’ve got to live with Power & Light, but we can’t have it be an oasis in a wasteland. We need to see the rest of downtown continue to grow. The city’s job is to support downtown with clean sidewalks and safe streets. What government should do is create conditions to allow markets to thrive. If downtown is thriving and doing well, businesses will want to be there.

Are you willing to take risks on development in Downtown and the Urban Core?

I’m reluctant to be a venture capitalist with public dollars. Some of our current decision makers call it taking risks. I think it’s being reckless. I don’t think you are supposed to be reckless with public money. I’m not willing to take additional huge bets. But the chips that are on the table have to be covered. I have to make this thing work. If any of these city-supported development plans falter under my watch, we’re in deep trouble. And frankly, of all the candidates running, I’m the one most likely to figure out how the hell to make all of this work. We’ve mortgaged the future, and by God we better find money to make the payments.

Would you work with the Downtown Council and Urban Society to accomplish the progressive/positive and ambitious goals they have for Downtown and the urban core?

I am not entirely familiar with the inner workings of either organization, nor do I know the details of their goals. But my general sense of the Urban Society is that they want downtown to be hip and cool and interesting and fun, and so do I. Having downtown be safe and clean and attractive and inviting is absolutely critical to the success of the city given the huge investment that we’ve made.

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