Since January, 2003
            
 Sliding from Before to After

If you're interested in the "Taxation Without Representation Federal Tax Pay-Out Message Board Installation Act of 2007" (Bill 17-0028) that would put electronic tote boards on the Wilson Building and the ballpark showing the federal taxes that District residents pay while still having no votiing representation in Congress, the council hearing is now underway, which you can watch on DC Cable 13 or via streaming video. I wrote about it a few days back, and today's WashTimes gives some detail on what the bill calls for. I'll have more after the hearing is finished.
Post-Hearing UPDATE: The first two hours of the hearing were more of a general discussion about the current state of DC voting rights, which included multiple mentions that the $3 billion that District residents pay each year in federal taxes is higher than the tax burdens of seven states, and nearly as high as four others. It wasn't until DC Sports and Entertainment Commission CEO Greg O'Dell started his testimony that the issue of whether the council even can legislate the addition of a sign to the ballpark came up.
Because the lease agreement signed by the team and the city states that the Nationals control the signage on the stadium's interior, exterior, and perimeter, the DCSEC's outside counsel feels that this tote-board bill "could conflict" with the lease. O'Dell took a pretty tough batch of questions from council chair Vincent Gray about whether O'Dell himself thinks this sign is a good idea--he punted a number of times, saying he wanted to be "mindful of the process" and "respectful of my board" until Gray finally pinned him down to admit that he thinks it's a good idea. O'Dell did say that the sports commission would move to implement whatever the council decides.
Chairman Gray commented a few times on his unhappiness that the citizens of the District are paying $611 million for the ballpark but can't put this sign up without going to the Nationals for approval. As to the issue of whether the sign's costs would violate ballpark cost cap, O'Dell indicated that if the sign cost less than $100,000 that he didn't think it would cause any cap problems.
So, one would imagine that there will now be some intense negotiations between the city and the Nationals to get their approval for the sign. But given the response that Stan Kasten gave to Mark Plotkin (described here and here) about the moving the DC Taxation Without Representation sign that currently hangs at RFK to the new ballpark, it will be interesting to see how this tote-board discussion turns out.
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