Mayor's Bucks for Baseball Contrasts with Past

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 30, 2004 | Go to article overview

Mayor's Bucks for Baseball Contrasts with Past


Byline: Adrienne T. Washington, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Remember back in the day when D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams was called a bureaucratic bean counter? Remember the movement to draft the District's congressionally imposed chief financial officer for mayor because of his hyped-up reputation for slicing people and programs as he slashed spreadsheets? Remember also when the Bow Tie Bandit attempted to sell off the public university and the public hospital all in the name of fiscal responsibility?

No matter that Mr. Williams was viewed as unattached to humans as he was attached to figures as long as he appeared to balance the city's budget.

It's no secret that I didn't buy the hype then, and I'm certainly not alone now, for Mr. Williams exposes through this fool's folly to publicly finance a baseball stadium that he is anything but a bottom-line bureaucrat.

Can you just imagine the indignant howls for impeach-ment from congressional overseers had former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, now Ward 8 council member-elect, even dared to propose a new tax on city businesses to generate a guesstimate from $400 million to $600 million of city funds (depending on the day and the bean counter) to build a stadium for billionaire sports moguls? Fidgety funds in fickle economic times, by the way, which provide very little local return on the dollar for D.C. residents? Forget the pie-in-the-sky promises: Guess who would have been leading the impeach-ment parade? None other than Mr. Bow Tie Bandit, armed with accounting graphs and charts.

Now that the glove is on the other hand, the Williams administration suggests that the current chief financial officer, Natwar M. Gandhi, is overly cautious in his projections that the actual construction costs of a new baseball stadium in Southeast to house the Washington Nationals are much higher than this baseball-or-bust mayor initially estimated.

Bust it will be, because no one really knows what uncalculated, long-term cost this bad baseball deal will mean for the taxpayers of the District - not only monetarily but also mentally and politically.

"D.C.," as we know it, may never be the same.

Lifelong D.C. resident and activist Lois "Lea" Adams suggests that the mayor, who still does not own property in the city, is "turning D.C. from a city of neighborhoods into an external and internal tourist trap," most especially with this baseball boondoggle.

"Neither the team nor the stadium would really belong to the half-million residents of D.C.," said Ms. Adams, who lives in Southwest and is a baseball fan. "While we're watching on our TVs, the stad-ium will be filled with tourists, visitors and fat cats entertaining their clients from box seats."

And, she noted,, "and even then, every red cent will go to the team owners; if it's so good for the city, show me the money. …

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