In an interview, John Paterakis has said that his development team, led by H&S Properties, originally proposed a 350-room hotel on the waterfront in Inner Harbor East. A hotel such as this would anchor development in Inner Harbor East and would more appropriately fit into the carefully developed and reviewed master plan for the Fells Point and Little Italy communities, in a way that the proposed 45-story hotel does not.
The city has approved $51.8 million in public financing for the Inner Harbor East Wyndham, including $5.5 million in grants and a $5 million low-interest loan. Both the Grand Hyatt and Westin proposals require much smaller outlays of public funds.
A smaller hotel in Inner Harbor East could also be developed with a small amount of public funds, saving the city's precious public resources for other needed city services and projects.
The best site for a Convention Center headquarters hotel is clearly one of the two proposals nearest the Convention Center -- either the Westin or the Grand Hyatt.
It would have the broad support of the business community, the state treasurer, key legislators and the general public, and it would cost taxpayers less than the current Inner Harbor East proposal.
Development of the Inner Harbor East should proceed with a smaller hotel, consistent with H&S Properties' original proposal.
If necessary, my colleagues and I intend to introduce legislation that would limit the size of a hotel at Inner Harbor East. This two-hotel proposal would provide about 1,100 new hotel rooms for Baltimore in the next five years, allowing all hotels in Baltimore the opportunity to be successful.
It would be a win-win for the mayor, H&S Properties, the citizens of Baltimore and the state.
Howard P. Rawlings
The writer is chairman of the Maryland House of Delegates Committee on Appropriation.
BGE must not stall deregulation of utiliies
Christian H. Poindexter, chairman and chief executive officer of BGE, acknowledges that "regulated monopolies are fast becoming a thing of the past" (Opinion/Commentary, Aug. 20) and that probably this is a good thing because "a competitive marketplace is always a better 'regulator' of prices and service than a government-regulated marketplace."
However, rather than embracing both this inevitability and the free market, Mr. Poindexter would rather lecture us about the accompanying threats to system maintenance, reliability, customer service, low-income programs, the environment and last but not least "the costs of transition to a new market structure." I submit that these are mostly red herrings being used by Mr. Poindexter and BGE to delay for as long as possible their active participation in a plan to bring a swift and orderly transition from a regulated electricity market to a competitive one -- which, I should add, has been mandated since 1992 in the Energy Policy Act of that year.
It is now 1997 and the Maryland Public Service Commission has set 2001 as the year to have full competition in our state. This is more than enough time to work out all the ancillary issues Mr. Poindexter raises.
Mr. Poindexter, reading from the manifesto of most electric utility executives around the country, restates the position that deregulation will be unfair to BGE if his utility is not fairly compensated for its "stranded costs." These represent the investment to infrastructure made by BGE to serve its clientele to "ensure low cost, reliable electric service."
What Mr. Poindexter doesn't tell us is that these investments were also made to benefit the shareholders of BGE and its management and that we the consumers have provided the return on these investments but have had little voice in the amount or type of investment or service offered. Now that Mr. Poindexter's contention that BGE has always provided low-cost electric service is being put to the test by the coming competition, he is dragging out every monopolistic bromide he can think of.
When all of these are examined ad nauseam by BGE and the governor's select committee, only then, says Mr. Poindexter, will Maryland "be ready to fulfill the promise of customer choice." Apparently only when Mr. Poindexter and a handful of politicians appointed by the governor are satisfied that we uninformed consumers are protected from ourselves and electric utility carpetbaggers can deregulation go forward. This is real chutzpah and it matters not to Mr. Poindexter that deregulation is now the law of the land, that other states such as California and Massachusetts have already taken large and bold steps in this direction. We as consumers are entitled to choice, not condescension. BGE's past financial practices, for better or worse, do not matter a wit to us as consumers.