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Councilmember Carol Schwartz
Statements on passage of ballpark financing bill
December 21, 2004




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Statement #1

I do want to address the erroneous sentiment that anyone on the Council who does not support the proposed agreement between the mayor and Major League Baseball is somehow breaking a commitment. I have heard it over and over again, "a deal's a deal." Well folks, I never struck a deal with anyone. And, if I had, I can guarantee you that it wouldn't have been so lopsided in favor of Major League Baseball.

People have to understand that the Council did not negotiate this deal -- the Mayor did. Nobody asked me what I thought about the District being solely responsible for cost overruns. Nobody asked me how I felt about financing the stadium largely with tax revenues without even exploring private financing. Nobody asked me how I felt about paying compensatory damages if the stadium is not done on time.

Furthermore, even the deal that the mayor made with Major League Baseball, contemplated Council approval. The agreement is clear that there is no deal unless and until the Council approves it. So there is no deal being broken here. There is simply a legislative body doing what it was elected to do -- due diligence. 

Statement #2

This deal went from the world's lousiest deal -- although better now -- to still the world's lousiest deal. 

We should all have at least one opportunity in a lifetime to negotiate with this DC Crew -- we could retire as rich people. So I commend Major League Baseball on its major league negotiators and I condemn our own minor league negotiators -- they cleaned our clock.

I and several of my colleagues from day one asked a lot of hard questions both in writing and at the 16-hour baseball hearing. But it was Chairman Cropp's intervention which finally brought some movement from those previously unmovable and arrogant proponents of the original lousy deal. And I am grateful to her. But in spite of the deal getting a little better, and in spite of my desire to see baseball return to D.C., I still can't vote for this agreement. 

And I know I do this at great risk. More people have told me that they won't vote for me again if I don't change my vote than those that actually voted for me. In good conscious, I still can't vote yes because I remain concerned about forcing businesses out (both out of the area and taxing others out), amassing the land with 27 different owners, the "pork barrel" giveaways, and the commitment of TIF and possibly parking revenues for many years, as well as the sole-source personal service contracts which we're already seeing and which, by the way, are not being given to DC folks. Since the votes are there with or without me, I can only hope that my concerns will dissipate as the project goes forward. I want to be proven wrong so I challenge all those in charge - prove me wrong.

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