- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Baseball stadium negotiations may be in the ninth inning, but D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has seldom been near home plate.

The District’s frequent-flyer mayor spent yesterday in New York City to appear on a cable-television cooking show. Last week, he attended a meeting in Key West, Fla.

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, a key supporter of the deal, said she has been in contact with Mr. Williams by phone and they worked Monday on the deal with Major League Baseball to build a $667 million ballpark in Southeast.

“He’s been fairly hands-on, really, and I suspect that he will continue to be,” said Mrs. Cropp, an at-large Democrat running for mayor this year.

But council member, Adrian M. Fenty, who opposes public financing for the stadium, took issue with the mayor’s frequent travels.

“The mayor of the District of Columbia should be in town as much as possible to make sure the city is being run correctly,” said Mr. Fenty, a Ward 4 Democrat also running for mayor.

Democratic strategist Chuck Thies said there are signs that Mr. Williams has been hard at work trying to win council support for the baseball deal.

One sign is Mr. Williams’ helping council member Kathy Patterson run for chairman by hosting a $1,500-a-plate fundraiser for her Monday, Mr. Thies said.

“Tony made it clear that he would reward those who supported the lease,” he said. “This is clearly the first demonstrative effort to reward Patterson.”

Williams spokesman Vincent Morris said, “The mayor is doing this thing for Kathy Patterson because she asked him to.”

Mrs. Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, did not return a call seeking comment.

Mr. Williams was the featured guest on “Iron Chef America” on the Food Network yesterday and spent half of last week at the National League of Cities meeting in Key West.

Mr. Morris said the mayor’s travels have not stopped him from having “countless meetings” with Mrs. Cropp and other council members.

“I can assure baseball fans that negotiations with Major League Baseball and the council continue whether or not the mayor is town,” Mr. Morris said. “A whole range of city services and functions are running smoothly enough that they are also not interrupted when the mayor leaves town.”

Still, council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, said the mayor has not been in town often enough.

“I think there are 10 members of the council that want a solution,” Mr. Mendelson said. “And the solution requires more leadership than is present.”

Council member Kwame R. Brown, at-large Democrat, agreed.

“It is unacceptable,” he said. “When I have to hear stuff over and over again from the media, rather than the executive branch, at some point someone has to be held accountable for the lack of information.

“Maybe it’s just not that important to communicate with the council,” he said.

Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican, said she “would like to see the mayor and our negotiators fully engaged at this very critical time.”

“He has weight on this issue, and when he is in the room with Major League Baseball, I am sure he makes a difference,” said council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat.

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