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The Boondoggle Stops Here
January 20, 1998

Shaw Coalition
c/o 1535 Marion Street NW
Washington D.C. 20001

The boondoggle stops here

Ward leaders announce citywide effort opposing convention center financing

D.C. Council to vote this morning on Board of Directors nominations

Civic leaders from all eight Wards of the District will hold a press conference at 9:30 today, Tues. Jan. 20, at 1 Judiciary Square to announce their opposition to a plan to raise taxes on all D.C. businesses to finance the proposed convention center at Mt. Vernon Square.

As the D.C. Council votes on the renominations of two members of the Washington Convention Center Authority Board of Directors – which the D.C. auditor charged with misuse of public funds – civic leaders are warning of a much bigger financial disaster for the city: financing a "Billion Dollar Boondoggle": the proposed Mt. Vernon Square convention center.

Estimated costs have spiraled toward $1 billion for the proposed center, due to the need for excavation and underground truck ramping at the Mt. Vernon site. D.C. Council Bill 12-379 would impose uncapped surtaxes on all incorporated and unincorporated businesses to bailout the project. The bill would also extend financing from 30 years to 40 years – imposing higher interest rates (higher costs) and 10 extra years during which all businesses in the District would be paying for the center.

The community leaders have created a citywide structure to oppose the Mt. Vernon plan, including steering committees in every ward. In addition to their concerns that local businesses will be heavily taxed but see no benefit from the proposed center, ward leaders are worried that the Mt. Vernon facility would be obsolete soon after it opens, because it has no room for expansion and no parking.

Speakers/statements will include:

Ward 8: James Taylor, President, Park Skyland Civic Assoc.; Sandra Seegars, Editor, One Page at a Time
Ward 7: Penn-Naylor Coalition of Civic Organizations; Hillcrest Civic Assoc.
Ward 6: Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6A
Ward 5: Gene Cope, Governmental Liaison, Better Neighborhood Assoc.
Ward 4: Kevin McCarron, D.C. Citizens for a Sensible Convention Center
Ward 3: Phil Mendelson, Chair, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3A
Ward 2: Dupont Circle Citizens Assoc.
Ward 1: Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Gary Imhoff; Adams Morgan Business Association, Al Jirikowic

For more information, contact the Shaw Coalition at (202) 789-7864.

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