A new approach to D.C. budget autonomy causes controversy, the Washington Redskins get behind the effort to expand gambling in Maryland, and baseball playoff fever comes to Washington. Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney talks about this week's stories.
McCartney on whether Congress will allow D.C. voters to weigh in on the city's fight for budget autonomy by voting on the issue in a referendum: "It's politically risky and legally questionable. The upside is that it should stir interest and draw attention to the city's semi-colonial status. The proposal would have a referendum in the District probably in the spring. And that would authorize changing the D.C. charter so that the District could spend most of its money on its own without Congressional approval. But there are number of obstacles. First, it would have to pass a 35-day congressional review period, and it seems unlikely to me that Congress would let it stand. Second, it's an in-your-face challenge right at a time when even some Republican leaders there have been supportive of giving the District budget autonomy."
McCartney on the Washington Redskins organization getting involved in the debate over expanded gambling in Maryland: "They're supporting the measure for a couple of reasons... first, they play in Prince George's County, and approving this gambling measure is very big for the leaders in the county — both political and business leaders. That measure would authorize a sixth casino in the state in Prince George's County, and County Executive Rushern Baker sees that casino as his best chance right now to create jobs and get more revenue. The Redskins statement says they're supporting it because the team is a member of the Prince George's business community and wants to support economic development initiatives."
McCartney on what the Washington Nationals' success means for Washington: "It cements Major League Baseball in the Washington area. We've had the team for eight seasons, but this is the first time they've come anywhere near the playoffs. That unites the region that tends to be painfully fragmented among D.C., Maryland and Virginia, and with an unusually high number of transients. So a winning record like this builds a fan base that will pull us together, and hopefully last for a while."
Listen to the full analysis here.