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Government and People
WASHINGTON INTERFAITH NETWORK
1226 Vermont Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20005
DC Council finance d Revenue Committee
In the last three years, each of us has buried and consoled church and community members whose cry for help became our collective fight: Neighborhoods First! For instance, beacon Walter Coates was shot dead walking to New Years Eve service at Beulah Baptist Church in December 2001. The Mayor and Council promised change in Ward # 7's Deanwood Heights neighborhood, but Watts Branch Recreation Center is still housed in an equipment storage hut just off Eastern Avenue where too many young people joy ride in stolen cars and shoot off guns for fun. The Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue retail district is still anchored by liquor stores, a methadone clinic, and abandoned buildings.
WIN's position on baseball has been clear for 18 months: Neighborhoods first! In January 2004, WIN worked successfully with the DC Council to create a $100 million Neighborhood Investment Fund, dedicating 15% of the city's personal business property tax to pay off the bonds. At the time, the city sought to pass stadium financing legislation but WIN successfully demanded that neighborhoods be first.
WIN's goal is $1 billion for the neighborhoods. The stadium deal, therefore, cannot proceed unless it produces an equal and simultaneous investment of $500 million to transform DC neighborhoods. This will take the same political will, government resolve, and corporate investment as winning a MLB franchise for the District.
Baseball can either divide or unite DC. Working with WIN and the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO, Mayor Williams yesterday took an important first step in bridging the gap that so often divides our city by proposing that a $400 million Community Investment Fund be added to the baseball financing package. WIN has advocated such a fund in discussions with Council member Evans and his. colleagues as well.
Here's WIN proposal to fund it:
The monies raised would be equally invested to support neighborhood development, school facilities reconstruction, libraries/recreation centers, and at-risk youth programs. Creating the $400 Million Community Investment Fund would be a clear sign to Deanwood Heights, Sursum Corda, and Columbia Heights that Neighborhoods are First in DC.
DC Council members should remember the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 11 as they consider this baseball legislation. Here, God admonishes his followers' confusion-for their building of a great city with towers and false idols that distracted them from God and what is important to God.
God is not interested in the false idols of luxury boxes, upscale development, and fancy restaurants. God will judge us by whether we have let Walter Coates and others die in vain or whether we take action to rebuild DC's poorest neighborhoods.
----Rev. Lionel Edmonds, Pastor of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Ward # 6, Rev. Marcus Turner, Pastor, Beulah Baptist Church in Ward # 7, and Rev, Robert Hardies, Pastor, A/! Souls Unitarian in Ward # 1, are leaders in Washington Interfaith Network (WIN).
Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) is a city-wide, multi-racial, interfaith, nor-partisan citizens organization with 48 congregation, union, and community organization members representing 25,000 DC families. WIN is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). Founded by the late Saul Alinsky, the ZAP is the oldest and largest community organizing network in the US. Other ZAP affiliates in the DC Metro area are: Action in Montgomery (AIM) and Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD).
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