Would They Call It P.G. United?

By Rosalind S. Helderman and Valerie Strauss
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 29, 2007

A nd now, representing the Washington region in Major League Soccer, it's your Prince George's United!

Fans of the storied D.C. United soccer franchise, winner of four league titles, might protest such an announcement. But it looks as though team owner Victor B. MacFarlane is following through on his pledge to explore other locations in case his bid to build a stadium in the District falls through.

David Byrd, a high-ranking Prince George's County official, told The Washington Post last week that MacFarlane has expressed interest in sites in Greenbelt and New Carrollton, where the team had looked a few years ago. Both of those areas are Metro-accessible and have land sufficient to accommodate a mixed-use development anchored by a stadium, Byrd said.

MacFarlane has met with Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) to discuss the matter, according to two sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the negotiations are preliminary. United plays at 46-year-old RFK Stadium, where MacFarlane has said the franchise is losing $10 million a season.

"I've been told he's looking very closely" at Prince George's, Byrd said. "We hope that Victor MacFarlane feels Prince George's County is a great place for the team."

Prince George's also has a large Latino community, which has made up a sizable portion of United's fan base, Byrd noted. He declined to disclose what economic incentives the county might offer the team.

Last summer, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) halted negotiations with MacFarlane over the team's proposal to build a 27,000-seat stadium and other development at Poplar Point, parkland along the Anacostia River in Ward 8. The Fenty administration is considering four alternative proposals for Poplar Point, not all of which would include a stadium, and will present them to the public in about two weeks.

Stolen Education

It's an age-old tear-jerker: money intended for students, swindled by the adults assigned to help educate them.

That's the case being made against Brenda L. Belton, who oversaw charter schools for the D.C. Board of Education until she was caught stealing some $800,000 in school funds. She will be sentenced today in U.S. District Court after pleading guilty to four counts of theft and tax evasion.

Prosecutors arguing for a stiff sentence -- she faces 24 to 46 months in prison -- have employed an unusual tactic aimed at pulling on the heartstrings of the judge. In court papers, they have laid out the low test scores in charter schools and argued that Belton had essentially stolen educational opportunities from the students.

The prosecutors even included a letter to the judge from Victor Reinoso, the city's deputy mayor for education, that laid out what the school system could have funded with the money Belton stole: 17 additional teachers or 17,000 textbooks.

Except that, technically speaking, Reinoso was wrong. The money Belton pocketed had been allocated strictly for her office to monitor the schools. Not a penny would have directly reached the individual charter schools and their students.

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