"I guess we're like Charlie Brown or Rodney Dangerfield. We can't get respect," council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said yesterday. "This is just an outrage" . . ."We gave them a $611 million free stadium. I think that entitles us to have their gala at our businesses," council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) said.
No, it doesn't, Ms. Schwartz. If you wanted such an entitlement, you would have made it a condition of the funding, which you didn't. As for you Mr. Gray, you forfeited the right to respect when you willingly gave hundreds of millions of dollars to a baseball team with scant few strings attached and only the hope that, out of the goodness of its heart, it would go above and beyond its formal obligations and try to do nice things for the city. That was the deal. You made it, and you did so with eyes wide open and the entire metro area watching, so stop your stinkin' crying.
None of this is to say that the Nats are evil for hosting their events in Maryland. Sure, prudence and political savvy may have counseled that they try and do more things in D.C., especially so recently after being given so much money by the city, but (a) they were never required to; and (b) Kasten and company spell out some decent business reasons why they didn't in the case of these particular events, the best of which was that they were given free space for their gala by the Maryland hotel, and that means more net money goes to the charity.
That aside, this is what happens when governments get in the business of subsidizing multi-billion dollar businesses without asking for much of anything in return. You were suckers for paying for a building that will make the Lerners and their brethren in baseball ownership millions, but you were never misled.
Stop the phony outrage, City Council, and take the political medicine you have coming to you.
Update: Chris Needham (he of the excellent Capitol Punishment blog) makes an excellent point in comment #1 below.
(photo from the Onion. I'll take it down if you are the Onion and you complain)