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The InTowner
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Chutzpah, a Yiddish word, the primary definition is expressed as “utter nerve” and its secondary definition more bluntly as “effrontery.” And effrontery it was in spades, actually, that the Lerner’s Washington Nationals baseball organization, as reported recently in the Washington Post, will hold its annual black tie charity event in Prince George’s County –- totally thumbing their collective noses at our city’s own hotel and hospitality industry, the very businesses that were called upon to pony up the lions’ share of the $36 million raised through the special stadium tax that went to underwrite the cost so that the team wouldn’t have to pay a dime!

This action, which the team’s general manager apparently has no intention of reversing for the reason that the hotel in PG County will give them freebies, is so outrageous as to be beyond the pale. We are so infuriated by that attitude –- and, it seems, this boycotting city businesses will not be a one-time thing –- we would surely support an outright boycott of their games! If DC residents would refuse to buy tickets for a season that might cause those money-grubbers to re-think their lousy attitude. Obviously, they couldn’t care less that we taxpayers have already dumped $611 million into their black hole and are likely to be dumping lots more (like who will pay for the police officer at every intersection to speed shuttle buses from RFK to the new stadium because the Lerners were so uncooperative about following through on their commitment to build a garage?).

We echo the reaction of Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, as quoted by the Post, that what the Lerners are doing is “offensive . . . like taking a stick and poking it in your eye,” adding, “What a level of ingratitude.”

It amazes us that our city’s so-called leaders never seem to learn how to pick truly honest and ethical people and organizations to partner with. It seems that every time we turn around we discover that we have been lied to, fleeced, and probably worse by out-of-state hucksters who come in and squeeze us for as much as they can get away with –- and it always seems we never catch on. We’re certain the same scams will be pulled on us if we insist on entering into the rumored deal that is being floated to give the Redskins –- who insist on perpetuating their hateful slander against native Americans –- a sweetheart deal with regard to the RFK site. And, of course, there is still very much alive the serious prospect of giving away the store to the owner of the soccer team.

All this public largess must stop. We have already read reports and reported ourselves on local “public/private partnership” deals that in the final analysis bear very little value for the residents but lots of value for those developers who have figured out how to get us taxpayers to be forced to subsidize their private ventures.

It seems clear to us that if the city wasn’t saddled with so much bond debt that it has taken on to subsidize wealthy sports moguls and developers our taxes could not only be lowered but there would be more money available to pay for the things that are truly needed, such as quickly replacing 100-year-old water mains. As it is, when that work is finally decided must be undertaken we residents will end up paying WASA directly though higher water and sewer bills and that way the mayor won’t have to say “no” to another out-of-state huckster who will be looking for public money to underwrite with tax revenues lucrative projects.

Where does it all end? Maybe we need a new municipal slogan –- “Give-away City” might be catchy enough to flush more supplicants out from the hinterlands to try their hand at giving us the shaft. We are so disgusted we are almost apoplectic!