Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Oy, Linda! Oy!

In a bizarre twist in the seemingly never-ending saga, the DC council passed a radically altered stadium funding bill on a 7-6 vote. The amended bill could cause the early death of the Washington Nationals as baseball has previously hinted that major amendments to the bill might be unacceptable based upon the agreement they signed with the city earlier this year.

Linda Cropp, in a continuing show of arrogance, introduced and got passed an amendment that requires 50% of the stadium costs to be from private sources. The city has until June to finalize an agreement with these private sources, and if nothing gets done, the bill lapses.

I have no problem at all with them seeking private financing. I’ve always been weary of public financing schemes, but open-minded about this one because of the three jurisdictions involved. But, Cropp’s arrogance in trying to be the arbiter, right down the middle, is just stunning. She’s played both sides perfectly. I’m sure it’s entirely possible that she really has been struggling with these complex issues and that she really is looking out for the best thing for the city’s residents, but her manner is inexcusable. You simply cannot drop a bomb like this at 10PM the night of the stadium vote. It serves nobody, not allowing a proper look at the amendment or its implications.

In an attempt to buttress the city’s negotiating strength, she may have overplayed her hand. Yes, baseball should concede more, and yes, baseball probably doesn’t have a viable alternative, at least in the short term, but you can’t alter the agreement so radically at such a late moment in the process. Why didn’t this amendment get introduced last week? Hell, why didn’t the amendment get introduced before 10 at night?

Tom Boswell has the answer, and one that seems plausible to me. He suggests that killing the bill was her intention all along.
Instead, Cropp and her crowd want to hide their true intentions so they will not
have "They Killed Baseball" signs nailed to their political backs. But that's
what they did. And that's who they are.
Cropp doesn't want to leave
fingerprints. Instead, she wants to leave the impression that she was merely
trying to save the District money. Instead, she has now cost it a team and all
the benefits of development in Southeast that it might have ignited.

What does this mean for the future of the team? No one really knows at this point. It’s entirely possible, it won’t affect things too greatly--baseball still needs DC. But, it’s definitely altered the trust level the two sides must have for each other. All it does so, is to continue to leave uncertainty hanging over the team and its future.

I missed this in yesterday’s paper, but Marion Berry had an OpEd in opposition to the bill. Remember, he and several other stadium opponents take over the council in a few weeks. That’s another reason why it is so critical that the basic framework get down now. Because soon, the council’s going to be even less baseball friendly.


  • Linda Cropp, if successful, will go down as Peter Angelos' best friend. Ever.

    More than the guy who introduced him to his wife. More than the guy who said "Hey Pete, there's a few bucks to be made in this asbestos thing." Even more than the fella who said "You know, Peter, we might want you to look at this tobacco lawsuit."

    By Blogger Telecomedian, at 12/15/2004 11:29 AM  

  • Since it's fun to speculate...

    I was thinking about this this morning... I'm not so sure that Angelos would be thrilled about this at this point. The outline of the agreement he and MLB are working on is so overly-generous to him, that'd he'd be silly to pass it up. If that agreement is what's been reported, I'd almost think he'd want the team to come here--but is keeping up the public posturing just for negotiation's sake.

    What I wanna know, is what influence does the heavy hand of Mayor Berry have to do with this? I wonder how many phone calls he's made to Cropp? Could promises have been made about political futures? I dunno, but it's sure fun to look for conspiracies!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 12/15/2004 11:52 AM  

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