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Finally—-proof that payoffs for political favors can be beneficial for city residents.

Last Saturday, during an auction to benefit Eaton Elementary School, a basketball in a display case signed by Washington Wizards all-star Gilbert Arenas brought in $300 for the school. The ball, which is now in the hands of an unnamed Eaton parent, was donated by At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson.

He and eight other councilmembers received the encased balls as a gift from Wizards owner Abe Pollin. The sports mogul delivered the token of appreciation after the council voted in favor of a bill to raise taxes on a tickets sold for Verizon Center events. The revenue from the new tax will be used to fund a planned $75 million upgrade his downtown arena.

The Eaton auctioneer deserves a pat on the back for this one: The estimated market value of the ball, autograph, and display case is about $200.