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Sandra Seegars, On the Convention Center
Testimony to City Council Committees on Finance and Revenue and Economic Development
May 29, 1998

I’m Sandra “SS” Seegars. I live in SE, Ward 8. I will be running for City Council At-Large in the general election.

The Washington Convention Center Authority Financing Act of 1998 in itself is a pretty good piece of legislation. It’s too bad the Washington Convention Center Authority (hereinafter the Authority) and the Mount Vernon Square site are not in good stead.

The headlines in the Washington Post make it even scarier: Convention Center Site Cost Up $35 Million, Federal Aid Expected To Pay for Overrun; Convention Center: Nowhere to Grow, Critics Say Planned $685 Million D.C. Project Would be Outdated in a Decade; and Convention Center's Planners Scramble, Dig Up More Space.

We, the citizens have been saying all along that the Mount Vernon Square site is too small for the proposed convention center. Terence Golden, chairperson of the Authority, knew all along that the Mount Vernon Square site was too small, yet he chose to lie about it all this time, up until the last minute. He finally admitted the site is too small. Now he is trying to compensate for the lack of space by concocting a hair brain attempt to salvage that location.

This is evident that Golden and the other Authority members can not be trusted. I warned you of this at the last hearing.

Chairperson Linda Cropp’s last desperate suggestion, to dig a tunnel to, and build another hall under, the existing center is unacceptable.

The Authority pulled this trick of enlarging the center out of their hats at the last minute, to block any opposition. To build a tunnel from the proposed center to the present center, and dig another level under the existing center was cropped up in the last couple of months. This is not enough time to do a proper study as to it viability.

The hotel and restaurant associations are “hell bent” on using the Mount Vernon Square site, instead of the more lucrative site at Union Station North.

The extra digging that’s needed to complete this monstrosity at the Mount Vernon site is inestimable. The idea of using less concrete slabs and a cut back on steel in the structure will demand a whole new design, if it is properly done; or we can count on this building collapsing.

The increased charges on the conventioneers for hotels, restaurants and car rentals, to pay for the additional cost, will send them to the suburbs, thereby, money will be lost.

There has been enough money wasted on this proposal, and this madness needs to stop right here and now.

The councilmembers were voted in by the citizens, with hope that they would act as their agents and do what's right for them. With this project the majority of this Council are not acting on behalf of the citizens. You are acting on behalf of tourists, and the hotel, restaurant and car rental businesses. Most citizens are sitting at home not even knowing this is going on. This is not fair to them.

The Shaw Coalition, a work for free group, headed by Beth Solomon, has gone into more communities to inform the citizens, than the Authority. This in itself straws that the Authority, who was formed by elected officials, really don't care about the citizens of this city.

Councilmembers David Catania, Sharon Ambrose and Kathy Patterson have shown that they are acting in the best interest of the citizens because they tried to pass a bill to stop putting money into this project, until a set price was attained. However, the other councilmembers voted to continue throwing good money after bad.

Councilmembers Jack Evans, Charlene Drew Jarvis and Linda Cropp are acting in the best interest of the hotel and restaurant associations.

QUESTIONS: re. Page 1. Explanatory paragraph.

Which bond maturity rate is correct, 30 to 40 years, 30 to 34 years or 40 to 35 years?

re. Page 4. Section 213 (D.C. Code §9-8314). Subsection (a).

What year do you expect the balance of cash and investments to exceed the balance of liabilities?

re. Financial and Legislative Overview (Next to last page)

The third item under Current Finance Plan: Concerns — WCCA exposed to risk of rising interest rates until bond sale or legislation is passed.

Can anyone explain that?

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