WICHITA – There were plenty of shaking heads Tuesday morning at City Hall over an inaccurate Wall Street Journal editorial claiming that Wichita voters “defeated” the Ambassador Hotel project and Wichita City Hall in a referendum vote last week.
Even members of Americans for Prosperity, the architects of last week’s successful challenge to the $2.25 million Ambassador guest tax, were chuckling Tuesday morning about this errant national characterization of last week’s referendum.
Because even viewed in the kindest light possible, Wichita voters didn’t come close to defeating a “sweetheart deal” when 61 percent of them said no to the $132,000 annual slice of the guest tax pie to Paul Coury’s Ambassador. In fact, several local, state and federal financial incentives remain in play, without which the 117-room boutique project wouldn’t approach reality.
Unquestionably, Tuesday’s vote was a message to downtown proponents to carefully exercise those incentives in the future. What the vote clearly wasn’t was a defeat for public-private partnerships.