Alarm bells are blasting in my ears right now. Any time politicians have to resort to a media campaign to foster support for their plan, those alarms start blaring. The most recent letter from Councilors Izraelevitz and Scott did just that.
The letter offers a lot of rhetoric and scare tactics, and delivers very little in the realm of reality and facts (I’ve said that before). Lines such as “…there will be consequences if we let outside decision-makers choose our future, especially if we are left with even more empty properties, while they wait for a better economic opportunity” attempt to prey on your emotions to drum up support. I don’t buy in to scare tactics, and neither should you.
At the outset of the letter, there are general quotes attributed to why the county is considering purchasing the two properties. One of the quotes has the statement that “Commercial rents are too high. I would like to own my own business property.” Well, of course there are business owners that wish to own their own property, but this transaction won’t make that viable. While it will add properties to the market, they will have to be sold at market rate. Market rate for commercial properties in Los Alamos is still too high for most businesses to make that sort of investment. The county purchasing and redeveloping the properties (mainly C.B. Fox) will only result in the county owning pretty, but vacant retail space. That’s not a solution, that’s wasting taxpayer dollars.
The other elephant in the room is the matter of the memo from the county attorney recently released to the public. That memo shows that the county cannot legally purchase the C.B. Fox property because of how the parking association is organized. Why isn’t this addressed in the letter? Because it fails to fit the narrative that Councilors Izraelevitz and Scott are trying to portray. The fact that the purchase is illegal as it stands now is not something that can be ignored. It must be addressed first and foremost.
The fact that both of the authors that penned the article also voted to keep that memo privileged is also a scary factor that works towards derailing this deal. Attempting to hide information from the public that may affect council decisions (not linked to litigation or personnel) is extremely poor optics, especially pertaining to this deal. They wanted to keep the memo private, and are now embarking on a public campaign for the deal to move forward.
The answer is simple: this deal doesn’t come close to passing the “smell test”. I want a bright, vibrant downtown full of businesses and condos as well. Does that mean resorting to scare tactics, emotionally manipulative rhetoric, and poor optics to get a deal done? Not at all. This deal does not solve any issues. If the politicians won’t discuss substance or fact, the deal is a bad one.