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Hughes: Convention Center Hotel Opponents Waging "Class Warfare"

Metro President Tom Hughes told organized labor members Monday that opponents of his Oregon Convention Center headquarters hotel proposal are engaged in "class warfare" to "keep families from putting food on their table."

He made the remarks at the annual Labor Day picnic at Oaks Amusement Park sponsored by the Northwest Oregon Labor Council.

Hughes was elected Metro president in 2010 with the financial backing of trade unions, due in large part to his support for the Columbia River Crossing. He announced a reelection bid last week—and his speech Monday shows he's courting the labor vote with another promise of a big construction project.

"I want to build a hotel," Hughes told the union members. "I want it to be built by union workers, and I want union workers running it. It means about 3,000 construction jobs, and it means 600 to 900 jobs that will go on forever."

But Hughes said foes of the $198 million project—opposition led by downtown hotelier Gordon Sondland—will spend heavily to defeat the oft-revived project.

"Hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep families from putting food on their table," Hughes said. "Now I call that class warfare."

Arguments over the proposed 600-room hotel will heat up this week with a City Club debate between two national convention center hotel experts, Tom Hazinski and Heywood Sanders.

Hughes was scheduled to argue for the project, but proponents substituted Hazinski—after City Club executive director Sam Adams relented from his ban of Sanders.