GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
|OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
||ONE JUDICIARY SQUARE
441 FOURTH STREET, N.W.,SUITE 1100
WASHINGTON, D.C. D.C.
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 25, 1999
|CONTACT: LINDA GRANT
MAYOR WILLIAMS DISAPPOINTED AT COUNCIL INACTION ON RED CROSS BOND
APPROVAL AND URGES THEM TO RECONSIDER
Mayor Concerned about Message this Delay Sends to Business
Mayor Anthony A. Williams issued the following statement today on the
District Council's inaction on approving the National Red Cross Revenue Bond Project
Resolution of 1999.
"I am very disappointed that the District Council postponed action
on a resolution to approve a revenue bond project for the National Red Cross. At stake are
more than 1200 jobs over tune, the ability to attract more businesses to the city and
chance to stop the attrition of associations based here and most importantly, our
credibility as a city "Open for Business." I urge the Council to pass
this resolution at their next meeting.
"This is the Council's second postponement of the project which is
located on federal, not District, property. The National Capital Planning Commission and
the Commission on Fine Arts both have approved the project using the same information
provided to the Council.
"The Red Cross has applied for tax-free Industrial Revenue Bonds
to be issued by the District. I approved the application for the bonds and, as required by
law, forwarded the request to the Council for action, which chose not to act. I am
concerned that the failure of the Council to vote for the resolution puts our industrial
Revenue Bond program in jeopardy by discrediting this financing option Associations
interested in the District for their headquarters instead may choose from among our
"I applaud those members of the Council, particularly Chairman
Cropp and Councilmember Jarvis for their leadership and support of the Red Cross
resolution. And I urge other members of the Council to join with them in approving the Red
Cross revenue bond resolution." During this year of numerous natural and man-made
disasters, the American Red Cross has fought the effects of flood, drought and war
worldwide, preserving a tradition of humanitarian assistance. I invite the Council to
consider this: do we want to lose forever an institution with such stature?
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ANTHONY A. WILLIAMS
October 25, 1999
Ms. Linda W. Cropp
Council of the District of Columbia
One Judiciary Square, Suite 700
441 4th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Re: PR 13-232, the "American National Red Cross Revenue Bond Project Approval
Resolution of 1999"
Dear Ms. Cropp:
Last week, the Council of the District of Columbia determined, for the second time this
month, it would postpone consideration of PR 13-232, the "American National Red Cross
Revenue Bond Project Approval Resolution of 1999."
I am writing to convey my deep sense of regret that some members of the Council
concluded the situation they believed they were facing was not yet in their collective
view, "ready" for a vote -- months after I forwarded the request to you for
I applaud those members of the Council, particularly you, Councilmember Jarvis, and
several others, for leadership and support of the Red Cross resolution. While I understand
the difficulty this resolution may cause for the other members of the Council. I urge them
to join you in approving the Red Cross' revenue bond application.
Throughout my campaign and in the time since my election and taking office. I have been
working to get out a new message about the District of Columbia that we are
"Open for Business." This means operating in ways that are predictable and
understandable, knowing who is responsible for what, and holding Agencies and their
officials accountable for their actions and the pace of their actions.
In the context of the proposed national headquarters for the American
Red Cross ( (ARC) there are several distinctions from the "normal" building
process. First, as it would be built on Federal land, approvals are made by duly
authorized Federal agencies. Federal land is "unzoned," but ARC's development
program was reviewed and approved by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) as
appropriate in lieu of normal zoning controls. Moreover, the overall design of the project
was reviewed and approved by the Commission on Fine Arts (CFA). Each of those agencies was
provided the data needed for them to evaluate the site and the plan, and to reach
conclusions. Each approved ARC's plans under their respective delineated authorities and
criteria, and processes that are predictable as to steps and timeframes. The General
Services Administration (GSA) is positioned to review detailed construction plans to
assure compliance with building and construction standards.
Second, the American Red Cross also elected to seek tax-free Industrial
Revenue Bonds (IRBs) that would be issued by the District of Columbia under authority we
have been granted by the Congress under the Home Rule Act. Our laws provide that the
Executive is to review those applications and pass those we approve on to you for
approval, as I did in ARC's case much earlier this year. In the history of the IRB
program. there has been over 100 packages presented to the Council for approval, involving
over 60 different applicants. The bonds total over $5 billion dollars, providing critical,
cost-effective capital for our city, its residents and institutions.
By its actions today and in the time leading up to it, the Council now
seems to be indicating that it is prepared to operate as a kind of "appeals"
board in instances where here project has been approved elsewhere but not to the liking of
all involved or affected. I regret that this involvement may send a most unfortunate
message to potential users of the IRB program that they are "at risk" of
being examined not only for compliance with the statutory requirements relating to the
program, but also an open set of exogenous issues of a purely subjective nature that will
be taken up and decided at some later, but unspecified, time when one or
more members determine to do so.
On the immediate front, I cannot predict what the American Red Cross will do. They may
be able to make some changes that would, soften the impact of their project without
triggering a complete re-review of earlier submissions and approvals by NCPC and CFA. They
They might also opt, despite significant investment in the site and the
project, to reopen the question of whether to return their national headquarters to the
District. of Columbia remain in Virginia, or locate elsewhere If ARC should fail to return
to the District, we loose a sizeable employer many of whose employees were previously and
would again become District residents (and taxpayers).
I will work with you and your colleagues, officials of the American Red Cross, relevant
Federal agencies, and all others to do what I can to make sure ARC does return to the
District at the proposed location.
As I indicated earlier, I want the District to be "Open for Business."
Instead, right now, I feel ARC may have concluded that the District has "given them
Apart from its impact on the ARC, I am also concerned about the possible impact of your
actions on the overall Industrial Revenue Bond program. This is an authority the District
enjoys that was specifically granted by the Congress. We have tried to use it wisely and
appropriately. It is a financing mechanism, for stated public purposes. It is not intended
to provide a forum for design review whatsoever. Those who provided us This authority may
look disfavorably on any action that has the effect of changing its purpose and scope.
Loss of that program authority would be devastating to our overall well being and hobble
our economic engine.
Anthony A. Williams