Potomac Confidential

Marc Fisher
Post Metro Columnist
Thursday, January 11, 2007; 12:00 PM

Post Metro columnist Marc Fisher was online Thursday, Jan. 11, at Noon ET to discuss the prospects for new soccer and football stadiums in Washington, the controversy over student violence at Churchill High School in Potomac, and Virginia's battle over transportation money.

Check out Marc's blog, Raw Fisher.

Today's Column: Next 2 D.C. Stadium Deals Might Smell a Bit Sweeter ( Post, Jan. 11)

In his weekly show, Fisher veers wildly from serious probing to silly prattle, and is open to topics local, national, personal and more.

Archives: Discussion Transcripts

A transcript follows.


Marc Fisher: Welcome aboard, folks. Things are getting busy after the New Year--legislatures convening in Virginia and Maryland, a new mayor taking charge in the District, stadiums-a-poppin', war expanding, lots of interesting stuff.

So let's get right to your many comments and questions, but first: the Yay and Nay of the Day.

Yay to Fairfax schools officials who, as Post reporter Maria Glod told us today, are taking on the feds over the inflexibility of the No Child Left Behind regimen, this time over the feds' insistence that non-English-speaking kids be subject to the same test mania that's inflicted on English speakers. States continue to rebel against the testing ueber alles philosophy of the federal government and while some states have won some concessions, the overall transformation of schools into testing machines continues unabated.

Nay to the idea that owners of sports teams should automatically be given valuable city land for them to develop so that they can make even more massive profits than they will by building new stadiums. The model to hew to is the Abe Pollin one, where the Wizards owner built the MCI Center with his own bucks (and support from the District for infrastructure), and didn't get any big land giveaway in return.

Your turn starts right now....


Silver Spring, Md.: Hi Marc. Your 1/9 article on the controversy at Churchill High School was excellent but also ironic because the Post's coverage of the issue seemed to underscore the problem. The title of the 1/6 article "Blacks' Long Anxiety Over Churchill Grows" classifies students and families by race alone. And in an attempt to tie the reader into the article, the reporters set up the following scenario: "Students who ride the bus from the modest townhouses of Scotland past million-dollar McMansions to Winston Churchill High School say they have always felt singled out ..." This, of course, stereotypes all white kids at Churchill as fabulously rich and while many kids at Churchill live in said McMansions, the houses that one would pass between Scotland and school can only be described as modest, most of which were built 30+ years before the term "McMansion" became popular. The Conflicting Rules of Race Trip Up a Principal's Tongue ( Post, Jan. 9)

Marc Fisher: Thanks--I don't see irony there. I see two different institutions with two different roles. The principal's job was to tell parents what happened and do what she needed to to get school moving again in a safe and trusting fashion. Calling out the kids by race when the initial fight had nothing to do with race only served to exacerbate racial tensions and tag other black kids with the despicable actions of those involved in this conflict.

The Post's role is to write about what's happening and its background--once the principal turned this into a debate about race and class, and once parents responded with petition drives against her and other moves in support of her, the paper's obligation is to figure out why this is happening and report to readers about the roots and shape of the conflict. In this case, that means reporting on the Scotland neighborhood and its uneasy relationship with its rich neighbors in Potomac.


Arlington, Va.: I appreciated your column this week on the contradictory rules on race. I am a historian who specializes in questions of nationalism and national consciousness. I am always amazed -- although I guess I shouldn't be -- at the way people so vehemently declaim negative stereotypes as bigoted and unfair, while at the same time embracing positive stereotypes as God-given attributes. It is not a new phenomenon.

In a personal note, I think the principal's letter demonstrated the very stuff of "political correctness" that gets people so animated. I know that when some people complain about political correctness, what they mean is they should be able to say any hateful thing they want without rebuke. But hear we have a crystal-clear example of an intelligent, well-intentioned person, who was clearly so flustered by her own recognition an uncomfortable reality that she had to salvage the situation, or calm her own panic, by saying something nice. It reminded me of the Seinfeld episode when they kept speculating about the race of Elaine's current beau, and George kept saying "I'm not sure we should be talking about this." The Conflicting Rules of Race Trip Up a Principal's Tongue ( Post, Jan. 9)

Marc Fisher: We've managed as a society to scare ourselves into silence on the very issues that we should be discussing most openly. The political correctness debate succeeds primarily in making people afraid to say anything at work, in a school setting and in so many other public places. Benz fell into that trap, and while some are calling for her head, I don't see any reason to tear her down--she stumbled because the unwritten speech codes are so contradictory and awkward, and because there are too many people out there just waiting for others to say the wrong thing so they can pounce.


Washington, D.C.: The principal at Churchill H.S. clearly wrote a letter that was not politically correct and insensitive, but I was also appalled with the response of parents whose kids were directly involved. It appeared that before things boiled over, she tried to solicit the help of the parents and to implement measures to prevent the violence, but she received no support from these parents. Now, the parents are complaining that their kids are being cast aside and labeled as problem kids. Parents today need to be more responsible for their kids. I hope these kids, for their sake, are at least getting some hell behind the scenes from their parents.

Marc Fisher: Excellent point, and I continue to hear from Churchill parents both black and white who say that the real issue here is the inability or unwillingness of some parents to assert control over their wayward kids.

Interestingly, the real split in the reaction I've been hearing on this is not white vs black, but really more an age divide: Older folks seem to think the principal was right to call out the kids by race; information is the only factor here, they say. Younger people tend to argue relevance: They see no need to talk about race unless race is the core issue; for example, had the fight pit one racial group against another, then of course race would have been the proper thing to talk about. But otherwise, they say, look to individual behavior and make people accountable for that.


Allison Park, Pa.: From your column:

When five Whitman High students held up a Bethesda Smoothie King at gunpoint in the spring, nobody thought to mention the kids' race. In Texas this fall, when the wayward activities of a high school's cheerleading squad -- boozing, posing for sleazy photos, defying teachers -- led to the resignation of the principal, again no one mentioned race.

Yet you injected yourself into the Duke lacrosse case headfirst. You knew this case pressed racial hot buttons, and yet you wrote "Wolves in Khakis and Blazers". Collin Finnerty's record in D.C. was recently cleared, rape charges in Durham have already been dropped and the remaining charges seem more tenuous by the day.

You pigeonholed men based on their race, wealth, and athletic ability, without any thorough examination of the evidence.

Do you think you rushed to judgment in the Duke case? And after you explain how you did not, explain why the Churchill principal is guilty of a rush to judgment.

Marc Fisher: Huh? I didn't mention race in that column about Collin Finnerty, nor did race play any role whatever in the Georgetown assault case that I was writing about.

No rush to judgment in that Georgetown case: I watched the trial and wrote what I saw, which was a compelling case that Finnerty and compatriots engaged in some wildly unwarranted harassment of total strangers on the streets of Georgetown. As I said then, the Duke charges seemed flimsy at best, and I think events since have shown that to be the case.


Arlington, Va.: Danny Snyder wants a new stadium, and as long as he pays for it (and doesn't do it as cheaply as that mean old coot Jack Kent Cooke), I don't have a problem. I guess he was tired of being the Most Hated Man in Washington when he tried to buy WGMS and turn it into the "all Redskins, all the time" sports radio station.

Marc Fisher: Agreed--if Snyder and the MacFarlane group that has taken control of DC United want to pay for their own stadiums, more power to them. The District should embrace any sports team owner who wants to provide the city with a sports facility free of charge; that's a win-win, and the city should even do as it did with Abe Pollin's MCI Center and cough up the bucks to help out with infrastructure--street paving, underground work and the like.

But where these new stadium deals become problematic is when these owners claim a right to develop land surrounding their stadium projects with hotel, residential and retail buildings. I'm all for such development, but there shouldn't be a giveaway in exchange for a stadium. Let those team owners compete with other developers to make certain the city gets all it can from the value of that land.


Washignton, D.C.: I'm new to D.C., but when was Fed-Ex Field built? It seems like a rather new stadium. Why would Snyder want to build another one?

Marc Fisher: Jack Kent Cooke Stadium opened in 1997, so yes, it's quite new, but it's been widely loathed from the start because of the poor road infrastructure leading to it and because of design flaws. Dan Snyder has several times expressed interest in returning the Redskins to Washington, and many fans would support that. The devil is in the details.


Chevy Chase, D.C.: I am delighted to hear that the next two stadia under consideration for the city's use will be privately built. I have never understood why the baseball stadium wasn't done this way either: the owners build it, develop real estate, form deals with local hotels/ businesses and make money. The city cleans up on real estate taxes and taxes on all those hotel rooms and shopping. That way, there's something in it for everyone.

I'm glad to hear you admit that the city was fleeced on the baseball deal. Adrian Fenty was my council rep before he became mayor and when he last ran for reelection as councilman I strongly supported him because of his principled opposition to the baseball disaster. I supported him for mayor as well partly for his principled opposition to the baseball scam. I have talked to small business owners in my part of the city (Chevy Chase) and most are totally disgusted with the results. Think of what 600 million tax dollars could have done for rebuilding schools ... or libraries ... rather than lining the pockets of gazillionaire sports team owners.

Marc Fisher: I don't think the city was fleeced on the baseball deal. In a perfect world, the District should have made Major League Baseball pay for all or most of the stadium, in the model of the Pollin arena deal. But the city was hardly in the driver's seat on baseball; rather, Washington was at the mercy of the greedheads of MLB. If we wanted a franchise, we had to play their game. The deal that came out of it is not great, but it's not terrible either; the expansion of the city's tax base that will come out of the creation of a new neighborhood around the ballpark will be a huge benefit for taxpayers. And no D.C. taxpayers are paying for this stadium--the money comes mainly from stadium users and businesses that agreed to be taxed to support this expansion of the city's economic base.


Falls Church, Va.: Marc --

My 8-year-old son is learning the recorder in school and is playing Beethoven's "Ode To Joy." I played him a CD of an orchestra doing this and he expressed interest in seeing an orchestra live and in person. Do you know of a place (on the cheap) to see an orchestra that may even be kid friendly?


Marc Fisher: Check out the National Philharmonic, which plays at Strathmore, the new concert hall in Montgomery County. The orchestra provides free tickets to all of its performances for any and all kids. It's a great way to introduce orchestral performance to kids. Also check out the family concerts that the National Symphony puts on at the Kennedy Center; tickets are modestly priced and the program is geared toward kids in a way that both they and parents really enjoy.


Springfield, Va.: How do you see the transportation-funding cat fight in Virginia coming out? Obviously, something has to be done, but nobody I know believes that the politicians in Richmond want to do anything other than raise taxes and spend them on downstate pork instead of needed improvements in the problem areas of NoVA/Hampton Roads (which is what caused the problem to get this bad in the first place).

Marc Fisher: Despite all the talk of an impending deal on transportation, I'm skeptical: I've spoken this week to several Republican RoVa legislators who say their constituents simply do not want to spend any of their money on traffic relief for northern Virginia commuters. That basic fact accounts for the stalemate in Richmond and I think that will prevent any large-scale deal. More likely, we'll see significant movement on land use reform--letting local governments have more say in what gets built where. That's an important step and northern Virginia Republicans are moving to make that happen.


Bethesda, Md.: Marc, your confusion about economic development and soccer is astounding.

There is no defense for how the city was ripped of by MLB and Nationals. But to compare this to what DC United will do is mindless, though consistent with your silly crusade against soccer in the U.S.

Baseball offered nothing in return to D.C. No mixed development, no housing, no commercial, no improved parks or recreation spaces, not even a parking lot. And they continued even as the stadium was getting approvals to threaten to go to Las Vegas or elsewhere. The two situations are miles apart.

Secondly, public/ private development requires trade offs -- public assets to entice private development of something that will have tangible public benefits. The tax revenues from the soccer stadium (which will not sit idle like the baseball field will in the off season), as well as the housing and rec improvements are huge. Look at the proposed development at Metro stops in Montgomery County and elsewhere to learn how this works. Governments don't develop anymore.

Finally, no Marc, the city will not blow up up RFK "after the Nats finish with it this fall." United will play there until the new stadium is built and you'll still have the chance to rant about soccer in D.C. for decades to come.

Marc Fisher: You're rather confused about what cities can and do demand of zillionaire sports team owners. Obviously, there are times when the team owners gain the upper hand, as the baseball folks did in the District. But increasingly across the country, local governments are taking a tougher stand on new stadium construction, and many sports franchises are responding by coughing up significantly larger shares of the cost of new facilities.

The fact that MacFarlane and partners are prepared to pay for their own soccer stadium is terrific news and whether or not I like soccer doesn't prevent me from happily embracing the idea of a team-paid new soccer stadium at Poplar Point. Where I part ways with the proposal is on the expectation that MacFarlane be given 40 or so acres of land there on which he can develop a conference hotel, housing and other buildings. I'd be happy to see him bid for that land against other developers so the city gets the best possible deal, but I'm hoping that the new administration doesn't give the land away as a sweetheart deal with the soccer team ownership group.


Bel Air, Md.: Marc: You just referred to the Redskins stadium as "Jack Kent Cook Stadium." Does it still have that name? I never hear it referred to as anything except FedEx field. I know that Denver plays on Invesco Field in Mile-High Stadium. Are team owners naming both the field and the stadium so they can get the big bucks from the sponsors without eliminating a revered stadium name?

Marc Fisher: My policy is to avoid the stadium names that have been sold to corporations whenever possible. Sometimes, if a name has made its way into the common vernacular, I'll use a stadium's first corporate name, such as MCI Center (though I prefer Abe Pollin Center). But once the team starts reselling the name and asking fans to change names with the seasons, I opt out. So I like Jack Kent Cooke Stadium.


U Street, Washington, D.C.: In addition to the many reasons previously stated why Dan Snyder would want to move from a relatively new JKC stadium to a new stadium at RFK (transportation problems, game day experience, poor design, etc), what may be the most important reason -- ego. Jerry Jones, owner of the hated division rival Dallas Cowboys just announced plans to privately finance and build a monstrous $1 billion stadium. I'm sure Danny can't wait to one-up the Cowboys by building an even more monstrous monument to himself.

Marc Fisher: There is indeed an arms race developing among NFL owners, and as sports editor emeritus George Solomon just popped into the office to note, the league is giving owners low-interest loans to egg them on in this race for bigger, fancier stadia.


Bethesda Mom: Another inexpensive way to take kids to music performances is at the local colleges and universities. Univ. of Maryland's ensembles perform at the Clarice Smith center, which would give a "real" concert going experience at reasonable rates. Georgetown also has concerts. I bet a check of the nearest local school's Web site would turn up something later in the semester.

Marc Fisher: Yes! Clarice Smith Center at College Park is a real gem, with a very varied menu of offerings. If you haven't been, it's worth going just to see how they've managed to ratchet up the quality of college campus concert halls.


Arlington, Va.: Hey, Danny Boy just traded Six Flags amusement parks for cash. Maybe he should have thrown in Adam Archeulta and Joe Gibbs!

Marc Fisher: Wow--yes, he's selling off seven parks.

Maybe he's gearing up to expand his media empire!


Washington, D.C.: I can't help but suspect the new DC United owners -- MacFarlane, Chang, et al -- are more interested than the fringe development rights than the team or the stadium. After all they're developers. Spend 30MM on something that'll never turn profit but got a nice piece of land to develop. Why not?

Marc Fisher: Could be. That would be unfortunate, but the way to ensure that that's not their priority is to separate the stadium project from the surrounding development and then subject the surrounding land to a competitive bidding regimen.


Alexandria, Va.: No question, just a comment that "stadia" is one of my favorite words. How pleasing to hear it being used.

Marc Fisher: Agreed--but why is stadia so rarely used, while media is overused, to the extent that hardly anyone ever refers to one unit of the news media as a medium?


Ashburn, Va.: Hey Marc: Can I add a yay and nay to your list for today? Yay to Nancy Pelosi for kicking the smokers out of the Speaker's Lobby! It's absolutely ridiculous that smoking in a public building is banned virtually everywhere in the country yet it is allowed in the U.S. Capitol building. Also like to add a nay to the DC United for missing an opportunity to pick up David Beckham. Not sure they ever had a chance with him, but that would've been pretty sweet.

Marc Fisher: Hard to imagine, huh? D.C. law actually having an impact on the lords of Congress. Next thing you know, they might even obey traffic laws. Nah.

_______________________ Six Flags to Sell Seven Parks (, Jan. 11)


Woodbridge, Va.: Do you think there is a certain irony in your Yay and Nay? Unfair testing standards for many newly-arrived, low-income children vis a vis a man who has about a gazillion dollars wanting to spend it on a ridiculous monument to his own wealth.

Marc Fisher: Sure, we could all find better uses of Snyder and MacFarlane's riches, but I'd far rather they spend it on new stadiums than have the government pay for those facilities.


Washington, D.C.: Here's a question for you I haven't seen before: why does the District have so few public trash cans? Outside of the major commercial areas, they generally exist only at parks and bus stops. For instance, I live on Constitution Ave., N.E., near Lincoln Park, and there are no public trash cans on Constitution, N.E., from 8th Street heading East for quite a few blocks. I can understand this on quieter streets, but Constitution is a major thoroughfare with substantial pedestrian traffic.

Marc Fisher: A fair number of them were removed from the streets after 9/11--just like mailboxes (ever try to mail a letter downtown? you basically have to go to a post office)--but you're right, there were never enough even before the security panic.


Downtown: Is it not rather bizarre that while Fenty talks about D.C. voting rights and keeping Congress from meddling in D.C. affairs, he's also seeking to affect his schools takeover plan via congressional re-writing of the D.C. charter instead of via a referendum? It seems pretty hypocritical: he's all for congressional non-intervention, except when he's for it; he's all for D.C. sovereignty, except when he's not.

Marc Fisher: This is a grand opportunity for the Rumsfeldian Bluster Quote of the Week: The mayor would and should respond to your perfectly legitimate question by saying that you go to war with the army you have--that is, you use the legal structure you're dealt. I don't see a whole lot of value to the new schools structure Fenty proposes, but I don't see anything wrong with him using the current structure to push it through, even as he seeks to change that structure.


Washington, D.C.: Dear Mr. Fisher,

I heard you comment on Wash Post radio on the D.C. proposal to require Gardasil, the vaccine that protects against HPV, a leading cause of cervical cancer. I was stunned that you did not reject outright the idea that Gardasil was being offered to D.C. girls on the assumption that they were going to have early sexual initiation. The fact is that most women (about 80 percent by some estimates) carry the HPV virus -- it is not a product of promiscuity. As well, while few 11- or 12-year-olds are sexually active, we should be mindful of the fact that young girls can be and are victims of sexual abuse and the rate of abuse of minors in Washington is not trivial -- if we can't save a young girl from being abused, perhaps we might spare her the future pain of a cancer diagnosis.

It is my strong believe that the link between sexual behavior (even promiscuity) and Gardasil is the nefarious creation of the radical right -- we should be wise enough not to buy in to this and to protect our daughters from the health consequences of this very, very common virus.


Marc Fisher: I have two problems with the current proposal--1) the medical questions about making mandatory use of such a new vaccine are enough to give me pause, and 2) the age at which the vaccine would be administered is inappropriately low. Telling 11-year-old girls that they're getting a shot that protects them from disease if they engage in sexual activity sends entirely the wrong message about what adults expect of them at that age. Sure, there are some 11-year-olds who have sex, but the number is so small that it's not worth sending that wrong message to the vastly larger number who have no such intention or inclination.


Washington, D.C.: As a small business owner in D.C., I choked on my morning coffee when I read the D.C. Council had passed a bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of criminal record! I would close down immediately if that bill becomes law, and I think others would, as well. Requiring me to hire murderers, thieves, arsonists and who knows what all is just too scary to contemplate.

Every other category of prohibited discrimination (race, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) involves something over which a person has no control. However, a person is largely responsible for his or her criminal record. I think this is a terrible idea that should be tabled forever, ASAP. Thank you.

Marc Fisher: It's a bad piece of legislation, based on a good motive--ex-offenders have a rough time reintegrating into society and easing their path is a good idea, but this bill sounds like it goes too far in preventing employers from exercising sound judgment.


RalJon Stadium, Landover: Isn't the FedEx, Jack Kent Cooke, Redskins stadium the old RalJon Stadium named after Jack Kent Cooke's two sons?

Marc Fisher: I don't think the stadium was ever named RalJon--the Squire had the town that the stadium sits in named for his sons, and while I haven't seen Raljon on any maps lately, I'm not sure it's been entirely eradicated from the official atlas.


Burke, Va.: Marc, what do you think of Mayor Fenty's 200 goals in 100 days? To me, it's great to be ambitious, but to be truly effective, shouldn't he break this up into smaller, more bite-size chunks? Or 10 things that are truly achievable in 100 days?

Marc Fisher: It's generally a good list, and there's a fair amount of PR silliness to it--some items are already moving to completion, some can't possibly get done in that time, but overall, it's a good way to let folks know his priorities and to build expectations for action.


MCI Center: I hate all these corporate-named stadiums too, but didn't MCI change to Verizon because Verizon bought MCI, not because the team owners switched from MCI to Verizon? I'm giving this one a pass.

(This coming from a person who slips and calls it the Capital Centre every now and then.)

Marc Fisher: Go with Cap Centre!

Do you really call it Verizon? You actually say the word? If they changed it to Household Finance Corporation Arena, would you say that too? I just can't bring myself to do it, sorry.


Re: Trash cans: Don't have the data, but I remember a study being done (on the Mall maybe) that fewer trash cans actually results in LESS litter. One of those weird Freakonomics-esque relationships.

Marc Fisher: That does sound familiar--it's a fun theory. Take away their trash cans and folks will just pocket the trash. Maybe. But not some folks I know.


Bowie, Md.: What does Jack Johnson have to say about your scoop that Snyder wants to build a stadium in D.C. and move the team there? Has anyone contacted you yet?

Also, there's already a new mall close to FedEx Field. It's called Largo Town Center. I don't think PG can support another mall, especially one the size of FedEx Field.

Marc Fisher: No word from the Prince George's government as yet. That is a choice piece of land and in the long run, the county might be better off with a retail or residential or mixed development on that site. Especially being that close to Metro.


Stadium Names:: RFK Stadium is still firmly rooted in the minds of fans as the best of the Gibbs era. And as the Redskins stadium was being built, I remember reading in the Post about some function where both Joe Kennedy III (then still a Congressman, I guess) and Jack Kent Cooke were in attendance. Kennedy, tongue firmly planted in cheek, asked Cooke: "So are you going to still name the new stadium after my dad?" Kennedy said that Cooke turned beet red, stuttered and stormed off, while Kennedy had a good laugh.

Maybe if it WERE named RFK, the team would be doing better.

Marc Fisher: Maybe, but the name hasn't done wonders for the Nats (though, yes, I will admit it's been a nice boost for the soccer team.)


Washington, D.C.: After reading the question from Chevy Chase, D.C., I have to ask -- do you know if there is still a significant portion of the population that thinks the Nats' stadium is drawing money away from schools, libraries and hospitals? Do you get the sense that most people don't understand that, if not for the stadium, this pot of public money wouldn't exist?

Marc Fisher: Yes, I think one of the great failings of the Williams administration was in not finding a way to get that message across. They really never tried except for a lame bit of PR on the city's web site.


McLean, Va.: The NoVa Manassas Symphony Orchestra offers inexpensive, child-friendly programs. Check it out at

NOVA Manassas Symphony Orchestra

Marc Fisher: Thanks!


Ward 3: The Redskins should return to D.C. The location out in PG County is poor. By returning to where they were at RFK in a nicer stadium they would be on the Metro and make it easier for those in Virginia to come to the games. The location would be more central, so that everyone would have to drive the same amount of distance to get there.

Marc Fisher: Sounds right to me, though football is the least beneficial sport for economic development because there are only eight home games a year. So while it's great to have the team in the city, you don't get nearly the impact you do from baseball, basketball, hockey or soccer.


Washington -- HPV vaccine issue: Marc,

As the parent of two daughters (one in D.C. public schools), I completely agree with your view of the Catania/Chen bill to require HPV vaccination. Although the proposal contains an opt-out provision, it is very vague. Milloy had a column about this the other day. From my perspective, it is not a good sign that the two sponsors are council members who, shall I say, are bright but don't have the reputation of listening to others' views very well. (Ms. Cheh is a Council newbie, but during the campaign I concluded that, while her intellect seems impressive, so is her arrogance. Getting a Supreme Court justice to swear her in didn't earn any humility points, either.)

Marc Fisher: But the crowd at the inauguration loved seeing and hearing from Justice Ginsburg.



Washington, D.C.: Whenever someone brings up Raljon, I'm reminded of what Kornheiser wrote at the time -- it's a good thing his sons weren't named Peter and Enos.

Marc Fisher: Excellent.


Mount Pleasant, Washington, D.C.: Marc,

I can appreciate your point about turning the land over to MacFarlane and Co., for the Poplar Point Development. However, you should at least admit that most major developments in D,C. in recent years have some sort of tax abatement/incentives.

What do you think about the Evans bill dissolving the AWC and the NCRC? How quickly will it pass?

Marc Fisher: Right--and I'm not saying the city shouldn't find ways to help, with infrastructure and even more if it's justified. But not the land giveaway.

Don't know how the dissolution of the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. will proceed, but I know the mayor and many council members would be happy to see that whole additional bureaucracy that Williams created go away. As Fenty's folks say, those corporations only add to the cost of projects.


Washington, D.C.: Boswell had a piece (or two) on the stadium progress over the holidays and it was a fun read. Will you visit the construction site soon and give us your take? I'm especially interested in the progress of the two most expensive parking garages on the western sphere ...

Marc Fisher: I was there over Xmas week and the stadium is looking very impressive, but there was zero evidence of any progress on those garage structures.


Washington, D.C.: Giving away free land is the same as giving away future tax money through a TIF investment. I've never seen, though, any follow up after the TIF investments.

Since the city has issued TIF's for Gallery Place and Mandarin Hotel, I'm curious how those TIF's are doing? Have they generated the promised tax revenue? How soon until the existing TIF's start kicking money into city coffers?

Marc Fisher: Good questions, which we should look into as these projects become more concrete proposals.


Arlington, Va.: The previous poster got the Joe Kennedy story wrong. He posed the question not to JCK, but to JCK's since-deported widow (of drug using and hood riding fame). Her response was "no, he's naming it after me!" before storming off.

Marc Fisher: Ah--delightful if true. I do miss Marlene.


Virginia transportation:"I've spoken this week to several Republican RoVa legislators who say their constituents simply do not want to spend any of their money on traffic relief for northern Virginia commuters."

Whaddya mean, "their" money?! Most of it is OUR money! And frankly, I don't want to spend it on any of their pet projects. Let RoVa put that in their pipe and smoke it.

Marc Fisher: They feel the same about us.


Arlington, Va.: Can you imagine how much tickets are going to cost for Six Flags Stadium (or Marion Barry Stadium) will cost? Nice fodder for your blog item this week on why people seem to be saying no to the sports spectator experience.

Marc Fisher: And what about a Six Flags AT the RFK site? Ask yourself questions, as they say.


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Marc -- RE: generational divide in the Churchill case.

You could've described a recent "conversation" I had via blog commentary. I responded on an older person's post who said that race should've been blatantly stated, and I responded that I didn't see the relevance. I think we'd both be curious in seeing why you think the divide exists.

Marc Fisher: It's a good sign, I think--for younger people generally, race tends to be less of a factor in their daily lives.


Chantilly, Va.: Marc,

Have you given further thought to writing the history of D.C., picking up after David Brinkley's book on Washington going to war?

Marc Fisher: No, but it would be a grand and fun project.


Arlington, Va.: I caught some of the parent's "town meeting" in the aftermath of the now infamous letter. One black parent was complaining about the lack of "role models" for her son at the school -- I suppose the implication was, without role models, what is her son to do other than join a gang and fight with other students. My thought was, did this woman do any research before moving to this school district? In any standards one can come up with for quality education, Churchill is at the top of the charts. Surely the staff on hand is doing something right.

Marc Fisher: Quite right and this incident ought not detract from that.


See it now:"Alexandria, Va.: No question, just a comment that "stadia" is one of my favorite words. How pleasing to hear it being used."

The magic of the Internet -- all in the mind's ear ...

Marc Fisher: Almost as good as radio, where all the action takes place in your imagination.

Speaking of which, I'll be talking about my new book on radio, "Something in the Air," on Bob Edwards Weekend, this Sunday in the 4 p.m. hour on WETA (90.9 FM).


Marc Fisher: Gotta run--oh, wait--check this out....


Kick'n it!: Marc,

Is it really necessary to "kick it in the head" at the end of your chats? I'm not usually part of the grammar/political correctness gestapo, but can't you come up with something a little more pleasant?

Marc Fisher: Well, but I like "that kicks things in the head." So sorry, but That kicks things in the head for today...please come on back next week at this same time. Thanks for coming along.


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