- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2005

District Mayor Anthony A. Williams hasn’t been acting like himself the last few days, and he’s the first to admit it. Gone, at least for now, are the typically low-key mannerisms and bookish demeanor. In their place is a heady wave of outward exuberance not seen from the mayor’s office since Marion Barry’s tenure.

The reason for the transformation, of course, is baseball. Williams, one of many prominent attendees of the Washington Nationals’ home opener, enjoyed yet another high point last night in a political victory lap deep into its second week. Williams, as he did for the Nationals’ April 3 exhibition, received a standing ovation from the fans at RFK Stadium and was repeatedly stopped for autographs, pictures and high-fives, all of which he enthusiastically gave.

?We’re certainly doing other things that are very influential in changing people’s lives in the city, but this is all very concrete and tangible, so it’s easy to get excited about all of this,? Williams said. ?To take a difficult road that we did, come through like we did and achieve what we did to make this day happen, it’s obviously a great feeling.?

Williams, never known as a political glory hog, also spent yesterday and Wednesday repeatedly giving public praise to D.C. Council members Linda Cropp, Jack Evans and Vincent Orange, all key supporters last fall of a financing package for a new Nationals stadium that was instrumental in the Montreal Expos’ relocation to Washington.

The support of Cropp, who has skirmished many times with Williams, proved particularly interesting as it clashed against another resounding set of jeers for the council chairwoman last night from the RFK Stadium crowd. Cropp introduced several amendments last fall that imperiled the ballpark financial bill and caused a temporary suspension of Nationals business activities until Major League Baseball again received needed assurances of the stadium’s completion.

But early this week, Cropp’s often-singular pursuit of private financing for the stadium received a key endorsement from District chief financial officer Natwar Gandhi, who recommended borrowing $246 million from German financial giant Deutsche Bank to aid the stadium project.

?Linda Cropp could have killed this deal if she wanted to. She definitely deserves our support and thanks,? Williams said.

Cropp, who has complained in the past of the verbal attacks levied against her, took the heat in stride.

?After all the heartburn, I have found a remedy — a first-place team for a first-place city,? Cropp said.

Williams had the feeling of the day boiled down even more. Arriving at RFK Stadium for the game, he embraced Mark Tuohey, chairman of the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission, on his way in, simply repeating, ?It’s here. It’s here.?

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