SOMEHOW Washington writers can't focus clearly on...


October 01, 1994

SOMEHOW Washington writers can't focus clearly on Baltimore. A recent case in point is an article in the Washington Post Magazine which examined the nation's capital as a sports town.

"Is Washington a great sports town? You gotta be kidding." Those are the opening lines of the article by Tom McNichol, a transplanted Philadelphian. A great Redskins town, sure. But a Redskins game is a happening, a social event.

He goes on to compare Washington with other major league sports cities, finding the capital wanting.

His list? Philadelphia. Boston. Chicago. New York. Cleveland. Buffalo. Recently, Atlanta and Denver. Forget the West Coast.

Someone missing, you think?

No mention of Baltimore, except a glancing reference to it as the location of Orioles Park, which attracts a lot of Washingtonians. Not even to disparage us, as Jack Kent Cooke is wont to do. Not worth a comparison.

Who does Mr. McNichol think fills the remainder of the 45,000 seats in Camden Yards not occupied by the tasseled loafer and suspenders set from you-know-where? Who plunked down $8 million to reserve sky boxes and club seats in a football stadium that hasn't been built and may never be? Who are filling Memorial Stadium seats to watch football in the summer?

And what of the angry Baltimoreans who can't buy tickets during the season because maybe a quarter of the park is bought up by Washingtonians? Mr. McNichol tells us why the Washingtonians come:

"There's a lot of Washingtonians who don't care about baseball who love going to Oriole Park because of everything associated with it -- the crab cakes, the smells, the walk to the Inner Harbor and Little Italy."

But not for Baltimore's sports. For that you must go to Philadelphia.

* * *

ONE YEAR after promising the American people a government that "works better and costs less," the Clinton administration has issued its update. As expected, it was a glowing report of progress: A savings of $47 billion and 71,000 federal jobs cuts in the first year

It was notable to this department that our region's federal agencies got some of the gold stars tossed out by Vice President Al Gore.

He cited three initiatives in particular:

* A new system at the Social Security Administration headquarters in Woodlawn promises to reduce processing of disability claims by 20 months. Under the old system, claims could pass through 43 different employees and take as long as 739 days.

* A customer service team that has been conducting studies on how to improve the Social Security Administration delivery of services.

* The Commerce Department's new Baltimore Center, opened earlier this year, has created a one-stop shop to help U.S. businesses to break into foreign markets.

Take a bow, y'all.

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