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Morning Read: McDonnell Defends Grant to Redskins to Keep Headquarters in State

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Gov. Bob McDonnell is on the defense after offering a $4 million grant to the Washington Redskins to keep their headquarters in Loudoun Country.

    The governor, according to RTD, said on a radio show that the Redskins generate an estimated $200 million in economic activity in the state and the loss of their headquarters would be a “huge economic hit” to the state.

    The Redskins recently announced that they are moving their summer training camp to somewhere in Richmond. The team is headquartered in Loudoun County and play their home games in Maryland. The team made an 8-year commitment to these locations and will now invest in a $30 million expansion of its headquarters.

    Some of have criticized McDonnell for the grant, saying it is not the government’s responsibility to subsidize sports.

    McDonnell’s response: (VIA RTD from Romney’s appearance on Richmond’s WRVA)

    "If we had not acted, and $9.8 million of tax revenue had walked out the door to another jurisdiction, I'm sure that many citizens would have been concerned about the fact that we'd then have a $9.8 million budget gap in our … economy," he said.

    While the Redskins announced it would be staying Virginia, Exxon Mobil Corp. announced Thursday it would be moving its Fairfax County headquarters to Houston and taking its 2,100 employees with it—a big economic hit to Northern Virginia.

    Bacon’s Rebellion Peter Galuszka wrote about Virginia’s loss of a major oil company and 2,100 high-paying jobs coming at the same time as the announcement that the state will pay millions of dollars to keep the Washington Redskins in Virginia.

    The loss of ExxonMobil’s Fairfax office at a 118-acre campus is a big one. It had been part of Mobil, then-headquartered in Northern Virginia before it was bought by Exxon in 1998. The move closer to Exxon’s Houston center was perhaps inevitable but, coupled with coming defense cuts, it shows the lean times ahead for the state.

    The headlines, instead, read of the great coup of jobs-conscious Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, who, while losing ExxonMobil, is spending big bucks to get the Redskins to stay in Ashburn and practice a few weeks a year in Richmond, which is not known for football and at the moment doesn’t have appropriate facilities to handle the Hogs.

    Although McDonnell says he wants to keep budget spending tight, he is tosses plenty at the ‘Skins. The move involves $6 million in government money, including $4 million over two years from the state, a payment by Loudoun County of $2 million and $400,000 from Richmond.

    Why so? Presumably, the public money is being used to keep heathen Marylanders and even worse people in the District from getting the Redskins who will still be headquartered in Ashburn. The Governor’s office also says it would be useful getting the football team more exposure in Central Virginia and Hampton Roads. A few other reasons could include that McDonnell’s wife used to be a Redskins cheerleader and George Allen, a prominent Republican running for Senator, comes from a Redskins family. His dad used to be coach. Speaking on WRVA, McDonnell claimed that the Skins generate $200 million in revenue for the state and their loss would be a “huge economic hit” even though the half smokes, beer and nachos are sold at the Skins home stadium in Maryland.

    * Unsurprisingly, Kwame Brown—the D.C. Council Chair who resigned amid fraud charges and is expected to make two court appearances today—is dominating the D.C. news cycle. Here are some of the highlights.

    * Brown’s legacy is likely to be defined by his downfall, but Post columnist Bill Turque reminds us that Brown was an important champion for school reform on the dais.

    Brown understood that middle schools were the city’s real “drop-out factories,” the places where many students formed their decisions to quit. While modest in scope, his $1.7 million omnibus education bill planted some valuable seeds, including a pilot early warning system to identify and support middle schoolers at risk of dropping out. The bill called for another pilot to test the effectiveness of financial incentives as a way of attracting high-performing teachers to struggling schools — a critical problem for school systems. Brown also led the creation of a task force that will study neighborhood admissions preferences for charter schools so that more families might benefit from having a good school in their community.

    Brown was a voice of continuity after Michelle Rhee’s resignation, a time when there was speculation that Mayor Vincent C. Gray might attempt to roll back her agenda. He was supportive of Rhee’s successor, Kaya Henderson, and established a more functional and collaborative relationship with her than Gray had with Rhee on his watch as chairman.

    * David Simon, the creator of The Wire, called into the The Kojo Nnamdi Show Thursday to rattle off his thoughts on the resignation of former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown.

    Listen here.

    * Who’s going to replace Brown as council chairman. Councilman Phil Mendelson or Vincent Orange? 

    * Former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown faces a second charge a day after his resignation. News4's Tom Sherwood reports.

    * Vincent Orange could theoretically run in the general and special election simultaneously. Here’s how.

    * It’s nearly official and, as expected, the referendum on gay marriage in Maryland will be on the ballot in November.

    As of late Thursday, according to The Post, opponents to Gov. O’Malley’s same-sex marriage law submitted 70,039 signatures valid signatures—exceeding the 55,736 required signatures needed to trigger the referendum.

    The statewide count has not been certified yet.