Thursday, December 22, 2005

Gag Me With A Spork

If you needed any more evidence that Mayor Barry's gambit, in partnership with the Ledecky group, wasn't going to work, you got it today, when MLB sent an email to all the groups telling them to get the hell out of the way and let the thugs do what the thugs do best: extort the city:
No bidding groups have any standing at this point, and therefore no group should be in direct or indirect communications with the City or Commission in regard to any stadium issues. Similarly, no bidding groups should be in communication with the press about these issues.

Early on in the process (and I'm talking May) I had thought that the reason they hadn't named an owner because they wanted to ram Smulyan down our gullets. Now I've come around to the position that they haven't named anyone because they don't want deals being made. If it's one of the local groups, it'd be far too easy for the Council members to say, "Hey Mr. Lerner, since you're so civic-minded, and an upstanding member of this community, don't you think that you should chip in an extra $200 million for this stadium, so that we'll have more money for schools, because children are our future. You don't hate children, do you?"

Were the city to do that, it would put the bidding groups in an unfair position, but it would also likely cause them to see if MLB would let them pay less. The $450 million figure includes a fully paid stadium. Why would the groups pay that much if they've gotta throw more money to DC?

But the real reason MLB has reminded these groups of the gag order is for negotiating position. The groups that have offered to pay overruns are Franklin Haney's and Jonathon Ledecky's. They might be nice people or wonderful owners, but they're in about the same position as Brendan Harris, which is to say they've got no chance. Their efforts to sway the council were last-gasp efforts that does nobody any good. It doesn't really improve their chances because it ticks MLB off, it emboldens the stadium opponents, and here's the rub, it hurts the schools! I do think it's reasonable to say that they're making children dumber! (But I suppose that that depends on your definition of reasonable!)

Interestingly, the article adds more grist for the mill to the theory that Mayor Barry was taking credit for things he might not have been responsible for. Apparently his gang of eight wasn't quite, well... gang-like:
Carol Schwartz (R-At Large), one of the members whom Barry counted among the eight, said yesterday she never met with Ledecky nor did she tell Barry what her plans were for the vote.

"Marion Barry never talked to me about any plan to help any potential owner," Schwartz said. "My only contact with Marion about this issue was his calling me several times to ask me how I was going to vote and my not answering that specific question."

Like I said yesterday, Barry was in a no-lose position there. He can appear as a friend to baseball *wink, wink*, but also come across as a champion when his false offer was shot down, and the lease pulled off the table.

Regardless, for expediency's sake, getting these outside-chance groups out of the way, and making promises they can't really deliver (because they'll never be selected), is in the best interest of everyone. It's not fair to include these groups as parties to the negotiations, and just bogs down the process. The effects for the pro-stadium side are obvious, but even those opposed to the stadium are never going to get the kind of serious concessions they should be getting out of MLB until they get these yahoos out of the way.


  • This is why I love the blog-o-sphere so much: I had a totally different take on the Barry situation. I never considered for a moment your interpretation of the unfolding events. You are absolutely correct, of course.

    Thanks for this post. And good job. Farid@Beltway Boys

    By Blogger Farid Rushdi, at 12/22/2005 9:12 AM  

  • That's it, buddy. You made me do it. I'm adding this site to my blogroll. Great job! (No, this is not a spam post.)

    The issue here is that MLB has been promising repeatedly that there would be ownership in place by...whenever, and here it is, nine days before the end of 2005. No owner. It's obvious as hell what they're doing--they're not going to sell this to an owner unless the stadium deal is concrete. That's crap, but that's how they're playing it.

    But Barry going around all Vito Corleone is just as ridiculous, and petty, as what MLB is doing in regard to the ownership deal. The more the D.C. Council screws around with this deal (as if they haven't done it enough), the harder it will be to gain all these concessions. What irks me is that these people signed a contract, and only now are they negotiating concessions. Hello? This stage of negotiation should have taken place before anyone signed on the line that was dotted!

    By Blogger vcthree, at 12/22/2005 2:23 PM  

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