Thursday, November 11, 2004

Cropp seen as playing politics

By S.A. Miller

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp's 11th-hour opposition to publicly financing a ballpark in Southeast is a well-timed political maneuver that is reinventing her as a populist at a time when voters are souring on incumbents, city activists and politicians say.

"Linda Cropp is one of the few people on the council who is reacting favorably to the political tremors that were unleashed on September 14," said longtime political insider Lawrence T. Guyot, referring to the Democratic primary in which three incumbents on the D.C. Council were swept out of office.

It was no coincidence that the ousted incumbents all supported Mayor Anthony A. Williams' plan to publicly finance the entire cost of a $435.2 million Major League Baseball stadium and their challengers all opposed the "sweetheart" deal, he said. For many residents, the ballpark deal has come to symbolize what they see as the city government's willingness to coddle businesses at the expense of ordinary residents.

"There are two ways to deal with a train coming at you," Mr. Guyot said. "One is to stand there and wait for it to hit you. The other is to get on. ... Linda got on the train. ... It is putting her in the right position, at the right time, on the right issue, for all the right reasons."

Mrs. Cropp, at-large Democrat, had supported Mr. Williams' stadium plan, but she began distancing herself from the mayor amid a groundswell of opposition to his financing scheme. Her move on Tuesday to delay a council vote on the plan and offer an alternative proposal to privately finance the project completed her realignment.

"She has made herself a very relevant player," said Betsy Werronen, chairman of the D.C. Republican Committee. "She has put herself in the middle of this to try and work it out. ... If she can save the city money, it would be terrific and she would be a big hero."

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.