- October 6 - Statement by Ralph Nader and League of Fans on the Announcement that the
President of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission is Stepping Down.
Last Thursday, Robert Goldwater, President and Executive Director of the
D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission announced that he would not
seek a renewal of his contract when it expires on Nov. 5. The agency has
been mired in fiscal irresponsibility, secrecy and failed corporate
welfare projects since Goldwater took over. Today, Ralph Nader and the
sports industry watchdog League of Fans released a statement regarding
this announcement and how the efforts of the DCSEC can be refocused on
activities and programs designed to spread benefits broadly and enhance the well-being of the District. The statement follows.
October 6, 2003
Mayor Williams' mandate for the President of the D.C. Sports and
Entertainment Commission (DCSEC) has collapsed under its own folly. The
DCSEC had become a secretive and wasteful organization with a free pass
for its leadership to do anything to attract Major League Baseball at
the public's expense. Mayor Williams should learn an important lesson --
to think things through before giving up the public store, and to
respect the heartfelt community dissent of citizens of the District of
Columbia when attempting to turn their neighborhoods into entertainment
The announcement that DCSEC President Robert Goldwater is stepping down
following a succession of controversies and embarrassments associated
with the commission should conclude Mayor Williams' failed experiment
with the agency. This is the perfect time for the Mayor and D.C. Council
to take principal roles in redefining the leadership, goals and
accountability of the DCSEC.
In addition to running and maintaining RFK Stadium and the Armory, the
major goal of a redefined DCSEC should require a dramatic effort to
rebuild and maintain D.C.'s decrepit neighborhood and youth sports,
recreation and entertainment facilities. Mayoral and Council support of
a revised mission for the DCSEC that focuses not on satisfying the
avarice of wealthy developers and sports moguls, but on meeting the
recreational needs of D.C. residents, would spread benefits broadly and
enhance the well-being of the entire city instead of making D.C. a
playground for corporate welfarists to easily extract public funds away
from real life and displaced neighborhoods.
Along with this change in mission, new mechanisms of accountability must
be imposed on the DCSEC. The commission should no longer operate so
independently from the city government. Instead, the DCSEC should become
the sports and entertainment branch of the D.C. Department of Parks and
Recreation, using its considerable resources to complement the
department, making better the public assets of the city's facilities and
operating as a fully accountable government organization.
The time, money and resources already spent on the out-of-control bid to "attract" Major League Baseball, along with numerous other boondoggles
for which the DCSEC is responsible, could have been used to
significantly improve the recreational needs of the District's
residents. Such investments may not appear in personal financial
portfolios, but we should not doubt the profound effect they have on the
lives of the people and children of the District.
The days of the DCSEC's fiscal mismanagement, questionable activities,
secrecy and refusal to seek community input on projects should be over.
So too should attracting "world-class" sporting events by dumping public funds into the laps of private businesses in the dubious name of
economic development. Broadly-based economic development for the
District rests on putting the city back together so it can be a better
place for everyone to live, work and recreate, and the DCSEC should
reflect that goal.
League of Fans
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate and author. He is the founder of
League of Fans.
Shawn McCarthy is director of League of Fans, based in Washington, DC.