By Eric Fisher
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The D.C. Council is unlikely to vote on its ballpark financing bill until after the Thanksgiving holiday because of scheduling conflicts among several council members.
A deal brokered this week between Mayor Anthony A. Williams and council chairman Linda W. Cropp calls for the stadium bill to reach the full council for a vote by Nov. 23. In exchange, a formal process will be established to seek potential sources of private funding for the ballpark.
But some key votes in favor of the stadium project, most notably at-large Democrat Harold Brazil and Ward 7 Democrat Kevin Chavous, will be unable to attend a vote Nov. 23 or a potential substitute date Nov. 19. The most likely date for a vote is now Nov. 30, with Cropp to set one next week.
The delays do not present any real threat to the city's requirement to provide Major League Baseball with ratified financing for a ballpark near the Anacostia River waterfront in Southeast by Dec. 31. But they do extend the vigorous, citywide debate on the delivery of District services sparked by the ballpark bill.
And with passage of a council bill requiring two approvals 13 days apart, the delays also mean the second vote will not take place by Dec. 7, as originally intended.
"It's hard to get everybody together on a date that has not been previously identified, so we may not end up voting [for the first time] on this bill until November 29 or November 30," said Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat.
Regardless of how the final financing structure turns out, Evans said his strident support of the ballpark package has killed his chances to win the 2006 District mayoral election.
"This has done me enormous political damage, and I'm aware of that," Evans said. "But I think it's very important to take a stand on things. It's the only way things get done. But in 20 years, when all the dust has settled, baseball will still be here, and people will be happy."
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