Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Today's Stadium Blather

With the first vote on the new ballpark set to take place November 30, columnists in the Post and Times take different routes to the same take: public financing of the ballpark might not be the evil it seems.

For Tom Boswell, the money for the ballpark isn't coming from current sources of revenue for DC.
In the last two months of debate, the failure to define terms has done enormous damage to clear discussion. Before the last act arrives, Washington needs to get one thing straight: The money for this park is not coming out of some huge pot of public money that also goes to schools, hospitals and libraries.

It's simply not true. As soon as a politician or commentator tells you that the park will be built with money that should be going to better causes, hold up your hand and say: "Wait. That's just wrong. You either don't understand or you're lying."

For Tom Knott, it comes down to the lousy performance of the schools. He argues that criticism of the funding is just a sob story, because, even if the funding were going to the schools, it wouldn't necessarily improve anything.
The embarrassing performance of the city's public schools is an old wound, hardly germane to the ballpark discussion. If money were the answer, the D.C. public school system would be among the nation's leaders, judging from its per-pupil expenditure.

D.C. officials are forever pumping tax money into a system that provides only a illusionary return. It fools no one. Those with the means to do so send their children to private schools or move to stronger school districts in the suburbs.


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