D.C. council asks not to pay for Wizards cost overruns, mayor implies that it must hate black people

Oh yay, it’s some actual news for once! Washington, D.C. councilmembers have gotten cranky about Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to stick taxpayers with not just the $50 million cost of a new Wizards practice facility but all cost overruns as well — which was first revealed back in December, okay, but it takes a while for the D.C. council to work up a good head of cranky — and have introduced a bill to cap the district’s costs at $50 million:

“The District’s tax dollars are finite, and we have an obligation to our residents and businesses to use their funds as responsibly and efficiently as possible,” [at-large councilmember Elissa] Silverman said in a statement from the dais. “If we have to put more money toward a practice arena because of cost overruns, there is less money for new school construction, new ambulances and fire trucks, new and remodeled recreation centers, and other needed civic infrastructure, especially in Ward 8.”

Silverman also noted that the way the mayor has put forward her plan, the council wouldn’t even have to vote on it — unless the council blocks it by this Thursday, the spending deal will be “passively” approved, which is the kind of crazy that sounds about right for D.C. governance. (Several councilmembers have already filed a motion to extend the arena decision until April 7.)

Bowser’s chief of staff John Falcicchio showed that the council has no monopoly on the cranky, telling Washington City Paper: “It’s troubling that certain Councilmembers would move to strip $5 million from a job creating project in Ward 8. This is similar to the Council’s effort last year to defund the RISE Center at St. Elizabeths. Don’t tread on Ward 8.” Why are you picking on poor Ward 8, councilmembers? Do you think Ward 8 doesn’t deserve your blank checks? If you really loved Ward 8, you would buy it a pony.

All this over whether D.C. taxpayers will pay for an entire $50 million NBA practice arena, or will pay for an entire $50 million NBA practice arena plus any additional costs that crop up when the Wizards decide they want gold-plated exercise equipment. Representative democracy sure seemed like a good idea at the time.


10 comments on “D.C. council asks not to pay for Wizards cost overruns, mayor implies that it must hate black people

  1. Reminds me of a quote I heard the other day (from a comedian about the presidential race) saying we seem to be in the last season of America and the writers are going crazy. The mayor should be recalled.

  2. Ward 8 does need spending. However, projects like this where building contractors “reserve” a small number of jobs for local residents never seem to deliver appreciable gains for the community.

    However, when the mayor’s goal is a photo at a ribbon cutting, such niceties can be cheerfully ignored.

  3. “If we have to put more money toward a practice arena because of cost overruns, there is less money for new school construction, new ambulances and fire trucks, new and remodeled recreation centers, and other needed civic infrastructure, especially in Ward 8.”

    My comment: Duh. Yes!

  4. Yeah, they released the audit in Sacramento the other day, and so far it’s around $142,000 per job created. I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but $142,000 to create a job would drag a district down, not lift it up.

    Never mind. I’m just wrong. It’d be way worse if it only cost $20,000 per job.

    http://sacramento.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=22&clip_id=3759&meta_id=460378

  5. I don’t see any mention of race in the City Paper article.

    Pretty crazy plan by the mayor to spend $50 million to make $90 million over 20 years, and those are their best case numbers.

  6. I actually made sure to check with some D.C. residents as to whether that “Don’t tread on Ward 8” was coded race-baiting, and they said “hell to the yes.”

    As for $90m in new revenues, I tackled those numbers here:

    http://www.fieldofschemes.com/2015/09/16/9791/d-c-mayor-proposes-55m-wizards-practice-arena-because-city-was-out-of-other-sports-to-subsidize/

  7. In DC politics everything is always about race so that is generally correct, but in this case the guy making the statement is white and a couple of the council members he is criticizing are black. So this interpretation of the comments has a white politician calling out two black politicians for being racist against blacks. The more likely issue is that they are battling over kick-backs and pork rather than the goodwill of the underprivileged citizens of Ward 8.

  8. In New York, a white politician calling out two black politicians for being racist against blacks is known as “Tuesday.”

    It’s cover, absolutely. But the clear subtext is “How dare you take away the poor folks’ chance to live near a basketball arena?”

    (And yes, I’m conflating race and class, but it’s a muddled message that way.)

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