Tax Fight Breaks Out at Rec Center Dedication

By Tom Sherwood
|  Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011  |  Updated 8:38 PM EDT
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D.C. Council member Mary Cheh confronts Mayor Vincent Gray over taxes during a public event.

Tom Sherwood

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh confronts Mayor Vincent Gray over taxes during a public event.

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The opening of a recreation center Wednesday was supposed to be a feel-good event for D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, but it turned into a surprise -- and very public -- fight over raising taxes when Council member Mary Cheh confronted Gray.

Children and parents were on the refurbished playground and cheerful balloons decorated the ceremonies dedicating the restored Guy Mason Rec Center just north of Georgetown, but the party mood didn't last when a tax issue she thought was settled rankled Cheh. A Gray supporter, she is angry at the mayor for his overnight veto of a bill that would have delayed a controversial tax on municipal bond from this to next.

Now, the bond tax will be retroactive to January.

Cheh and Gray faced off even as they posed with children for photos.

At his news conference, Gray explained that he vetoed the bill because of the bad economy and fears Wall Street will downgrade the city's credit rating if it objects to tax and spending policies.

Cheh contends the bond tax change -- costing about $13 million in a $10 billion budget -- would not affect the city's ratings. She promised to work to override the mayor's decision when the council comes back from recess in September.

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