Silence Wasn't Golden

Sunday, December 21, 2008

THE MEMBERS of the D.C. Council who supported the failed effort to switch the city's lottery business to a new company had no problem explaining their votes.

Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) cited the millions of dollars that would be saved. Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) talked about the competitive process that produced a better deal. Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) warned about the loss of additional revenue during tight budget times. David A. Catania (I-At Large) said that the integrity of how the city does business was at stake. And, Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) posed the very pertinent question of "why would I countermand an open and professional process?"

Too bad a majority of the council had no such compunction in defying the advice of its fiscal experts. After months of delays and political intrigue, it rejected a $120 million lottery contract. Even worse, members couldn't explain why. Six didn't even try. Sitting silent were: Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large). At least Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) offered up brief words, but neither was convincing.

The only thing that's clear is the District seems for the moment stuck with a firm that offered an inferior product for more money. Which, come to think of it, is probably why the council majority figured the less said, the better.

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