- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2003

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday appointed two new members to the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, but the future of commission President Robert D. Goldwater, the city’s highest-paid employee, remains undecided.

Mark H. Tuohey, a managing partner with the law firm of Vinson & Elkins, will become the new chairman of the commission. Mr. Tuohey vowed yesterday to refocus the commission on its mission of fund raising and providing grants for youth sports and recreation programs.

“We will get involved with the community, take a real hard look at what we can and should be doing, then do something about it,” he said.

Mr. Tuohey served as special counsel to the D.C. Council in 1998-99 and as president of the D.C. Bar in 1993-94.

Lloyd J. Jordan, the former director for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and a recent candidate for city administrator, also joined the commission yesterday. The appointments are nonpaying jobs.

The commission was created with a primary goal of working with the D.C. Department of Recreation and nonprofit groups to raise money for sports and recreation programs.

But since Mr. Goldwater was hired in 2000, the commission has focused much of its attention on bringing to the city such high-profile sporting events as championship boxing and Major League Baseball. Mr. Goldwater earns $250,000 annually.

The Washington Times has reported on recent problems with the commission, including unsuccessful events and community opposition.

The city was forced to cancel its 10-year contract with a Grand Prix racing league after residents in the Kingman Park neighborhood in Southeast, adjacent to RFK Stadium, complained about the noise. And council members were upset about the city putting up more than $5 million to renovate the stadium parking lot for the race.

The Washington Post has reported the commission has misspent millions of dollars.

Several ethical lapses have also been reported in connection with professional football tickets and campaign contributions to politicians in other states. The reports led to the ouster of former commission Chairman John Richardson.

The Times first reported in April the proliferation in six-figure salaries in the D.C. government. The District, with 572,000 residents, has more city government workers earning $100,000-plus salaries than Chicago, a city with nearly 3 million residents, or Baltimore, a city similar in size to the District.

Of the District’s 34,000 employees, 575 make more than $100,000 a year. In comparison, 419 of Chicago’s 40,000 city workers and 22 of Baltimore’s 15,000 employees make that much.

Mr. Goldwater said the commission has a revenue problem, but has neither misspent nor overspent money.

The commission spent $11 million renovating RFK to keep the Washington Freedom and D.C. United professional soccer teams in the city, he said. But the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) folded this week.

“When the commission was founded, the Redskins were in the stadium,” Mr. Goldwater said.

“They were practically printing money, and revenue was easy to come by. That type of money stream is not easy to come by now, and the WUSA insolvency is not helpful.”

He also said the commission’s focus on community grants has not slowed, with 12 grants up for approval at its next meeting.

The commission’s Community Outreach Grant Program works with nonprofit groups and the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation to raise money for and promote youth activities.

The commission must now report its spending to Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi and the D.C. Council, following legislation passed Tuesday by council members.

And last week, council member Harold Brazil, chairman of the council’s Committee on Economic Development, asked Mr. Goldwater to draft an updated five-year plan for the commission by Oct. 31.

Mr. Goldwater said he has begun working on the plan and welcomes any assistance council members and the city’s chief financial officer can give.

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