Nader to DC Chief Financial Officer: Is stadium "cap" ironclad with no loopholes, or not?

February 15, 2006

Dr. Natwar M. Gandhi
Chief Financial Officer
District of Columbia

Dear Dr. Gandhi:

The residents and taxpayers of the District of Columbia have been told by members of the DC Council and in subsequent press reports, that the approved baseball stadium lease -- as written -- now contains a $610.8 million cap on spending from city resources for the new stadium project. I am requesting that, as the Districtís Chief Financial Officer, you release a statement immediately either verifying to the people of the District that the $610.8 million cap on city spending for the new baseball stadium is a true, ironclad cap, with no loopholes, or an explanation as to why it is not.

A verification of the cap should include a statement pledging that under this legislation -- should a new baseball stadium be constructed -- not one dollar more than $610.8 million can be spent on the total stadium project using District of Columbia public resources of any kind, including from tax dollars, tax breaks, development rights, bond revenue, private monies provided in exchange for something of value from the District or any other resource connected to the District, including those from the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission or any other quasi-governmental entity of the District.

If there is no cap, and there remains one or more channels which leave open the possibility of more than $610.8 million being spent on the stadium project using District of Columbia public resources of any kind, please provide a detailed explanation in your statement.

In addition, I would like your opinion on what the impact of issuing bonds for this stadium would be on the cityís ability to raise funds on Wall Street for District needs. There is a level of fiscal integrity required regarding the overall very high indebtedness per capita in the District of Columbia (highest in the nation). Also, the people of the District need to understand that you interpret the language from the Councilís legislation as a true, ironclad cap, with no loopholes. It is in that spirit that I look forward to your considered response.

This letter does not change our opposition to the taxpayersí financing this stadium and other costs. Renovating RFK Stadium with Major League Baseballís money is the answer.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader

Update: DC Chief Financial Officer's non-answer to Nader's request for stadium cap verification

February 21, 2006

On Feb. 15, Ralph Nader wrote to District Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi, requesting that he ". . . release a statement immediately either verifying to the people of the District that the $610.8 million cap on city spending for the new baseball stadium is a true, ironclad cap, with no loopholes, or an explanation as to why it is not." In addition, Nader requested Dr. Gandhi's ". . . opinion on what the impact of issuing bonds for this stadium would be on the city's ability to raise funds on Wall Street for District needs."

Dr. Gandhi's Feb. 21 reply to Nader [salutation, greeting, and closing removed]: "As I stated in my letter dated February 13, 2006 to Chairman Linda W. Cropp, I am prepared to move forward with the stadium bond financing if (1) the Mayor signs the legislation; and (2) by close of business on March 6, 2006, Major League Baseball and the Sports and Entertainment Commission acknowledge and accept in writing the terms stated in the Act such that I can provide the required certification to Council regarding the sources available for overruns of the $300 million hard cost cap and the $175 million soft cost cap.

I appreciate your concern about the District's debt position. I will continue to work with Mayor and Council to keep future borrowing at manageable levels given the resources available to pay for debt service."

League of Fans
P.O. Box 19367
Washington, DC 20036