Saying that Prince George's County can't handle a large influx of the District's poor, Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R) called for a meeting between D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) to discuss the implications of the Montreal Expos moving to Washington.
"D.C. is undergoing a huge revitalization now, with baseball coming to Southeast," Steele said last week while in Prince George's to announce a $1.6 million state grant to the county to help authorities fight illegal drug trafficking.
County officials are concerned a proposed baseball stadium in Southeast would push poor people out of the city and into Prince George's.
Steele called for the meeting of top leaders while he was in Forest Heights, a community of some 960 homes and 3,000 residents next to one of the poorest sections of Southeast D.C., to announce the grant, which he said would help revitalize Forest Heights and other struggling areas. Steele said Prince George's was awarded the grant because it has developed successful programs to fight illegal drugs.
"We will work with the county and local officials to coordinate an effective strategy and build the kind of relationship that has results and benefits for the people," Steele said.
But Steele also found himself talking about the impact a Major League Baseball team in Washington could have on neighboring Maryland communities.
"There has got to be a concerted effort and conversation about the interests that are common to both jurisdictions," Steele said. "I think that we are going to need that conversation, because the stress on Prince George's County is real."
Williams was in Prince George's County on Monday, when he and Johnson unveiled a new shared community policing initiative. The two men also talked about working together to improve health care for citizens in the county and the District.
Still, much talk remains focused on baseball.
Prince George's County Council Chairman Tony Knotts (D-Temple Hills) also voiced concerns about the arrival of the Expos, saying many elected officials were kept in the dark about details of the relocation.
"All we are hearing are sound bites in the news," he said. "There has not been enough dialogue. Now we find ourselves reacting."
LT. GOV. MICHAEL S. STEELE (R)