Guy walks into a car dealership. He’s bought from this dealer before and had to pony up some cash to do it. It was worth it, though; this dealer had been selling a sleek, shiny machine, and this guy really wanted to impress his friends with it.
But today is different. Today, the dealer steers the buyer to a far corner of the lot. “I gotta tell ya, this is the car for you,” he insists. It is an old, used, beat up thing; doesn’t look anything like it used to. It belches out noxious fumes, is an eyesore on the road and is unreliable.
The customer really shouldn’t be considering this car. It won’t take him where he needs to go. But clearly the dealer can’t get rid of it, so the buyer should at least insist on a hell of a deal to take it off his hands.
The Charlotte City Council votes Monday on hosting the Republican National Convention in 2020. The city doesn’t need this headache or this risk and ought to consider why almost no other city in America wants it. But if it’s considering buying this leaky jalopy, it must at least protect taxpayers in the deal.
The council is expected to vote to accept the convention, but it still has time to craft the contracts the way it wants. Who wins a negotiation boils down to who needs whom more. The Republicans need Charlotte more than Charlotte needs them. Charlotte can walk – and should if it doesn’t get what it wants. And what it should want is zero cost to, and full protection for, taxpayers.
For Donald Trump’s first convention in 2016, Cleveland and Cuyahoga County pledged $5 million in taxpayer money. State taxpayers threw in another $10 million and federal taxpayers were hit for $50 million. Cleveland also made parking garages, city hall, its NFL football stadium and other facilities available for the convention. The county offered up use of its convention center and security services worth $2.5 million. Cleveland also spent millions sprucing up downtown.
When Democrats came to Charlotte in 2012, then-city manager Curt Walton noticed the initial contract had Charlotte covering any cost overruns. He insisted that be removed, and it’s a good thing because the host committee came up $11 million short.
If Charlotte hosts Donald Trump’s re-coronation, it’s certainly not to boost the city’s image. It’s for the economic benefit. So the city needs favorable financial terms. That means no local taxpayer money or resources for free, including if there’s a shortfall or if there is an unforeseen event. That’s especially important given the probability that some corporations that could traditionally be counted on to sponsor a convention might stay away this time.
Charlotte should stay away too. It should proudly host a Republican convention, but not Trump’s. This Republican convention is a lemon, not the peach it used to be. If Charlotte is going to take it on, the least it can do is protect the taxpayers.