Letter to DC Council from Barbara Lang

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Re: Sports Betting & the DC Lottery Contract

As you know, I have a strong history advocating for small businesses in this city. As Vice President & Chief Procurement Officer at Fannie Mae for 10 years and more than 12 years as President & CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce, I know first-hand how important these businesses are to the District and the civic and economic impact they have on our city. Since leaving the Chamber in March 2014, I have stayed completely out of the DC political environment and advocating for or against business interests.

But I cannot remain silent any longer. I have been extremely disappointed watching the ‘circus like’ atmosphere surrounding this contract put forth by some of your colleagues and from some in the media. This is a mockery of the very businesses that support this community daily, and I felt compelled to express my discontent before the July 9th Council vote on this contract.

As the former head of what was the largest business advocate in our city, and now as an entrepreneur myself, I am disgusted and disappointed at the visceral attacks on some of the small businesses selected by the prime contractor. Your colleagues have often promoted the virtues of doing business with small businesses – that they are the backbone of our economy. Yet, when it is time to step up and show real leadership and support for our city’s small business community, I now hear disparaging comments about some of them, including their qualifications, political connections to some in leadership, etc. Shouldn’t it be left to the prime contractor and to the CFO to ensure that we hire the very best contractors to fulfill the scope of work? I was also discouraged to read in the Washington Post over the weekend that confidential and propriety pricing information (as quoted by David Urmansky) was irresponsibly leaked to the media. This is a sad commentary on all fronts.

Mr. Chairman, I urge you and your colleagues to move forward to approve this contract so that the District of Columbia can be first to market in our region to offer Sports Gaming; that small businesses can enjoy a piece of this pie, and can hire DC residents; and that some of the monies from Sports Gaming can be devoted to crime prevention and birth to 3 years – as was originally intended. Thank you.

Respectfully,

Barbara B. Lang
Managing Principal and CEO, Lang Strategies