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Ralph Nader
Letter to Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi asking for opinion on whether ballpark spending "cap" has loopholes
February 15, 2006




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February 15, 2006

Dr. Natwar M. Gandhi
Chief Financial Officer

Dear Dr. Gandhi:

The residents and taxpayers of the District of Columbia have been told by members of the DC Council and in subsequent press reports, that the approved baseball stadium lease -- as written -- now contains a $610.8 million cap on spending from city resources for the new stadium project. I am requesting that, as the District’s Chief Financial Officer, you release a statement immediately either verifying to the people of the District that the $610.8 million cap on city spending for the new baseball stadium is a true, iron-clad cap, with no loopholes, or an explanation as to why it is not.

A verification of the cap should include a statement pledging that under this legislation -- should a new baseball stadium be constructed -- not one dollar more than $610.8 million can be spent on the total stadium project using District of Columbia public resources of any kind, including from tax dollars, tax breaks, development rights, bond revenue, private monies provided in exchange for something of value from the District or any other resource connected to the District, including those from the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission or any other quasi-governmental entity of the District.

If there is no cap, and there remains one or more channels which leave open the possibility of more than $610.8 million being spent on the stadium project using District of Columbia public resources of any kind, please provide a detailed explanation in your statement.

In addition, I would like your opinion on what the impact of issuing bonds for this stadium would be on the city’s ability to raise funds on Wall Street for District needs. There is a level of fiscal integrity required regarding the overall very high indebtedness per capita in the District of Columbia (highest in the nation). Also, the people of the District need to understand that you interpret the language from the Council’s legislation as a true, iron-clad cap, with no loopholes. It is in that spirit that I look forward to your considered response.

This letter does not change our opposition to the taxpayers’ financing this stadium and other costs. Renovating RFK Stadium with Major League Baseball’s money is the answer.

Ralph Nader

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