Barry Reaction Too Strong? Too Weak? Just Right?
Quick recap here on Ward 8 Councilmember Marion S. Barry Jr.'s latest misdeeds. And by "latest," here, we're not considering his long record of tax offenses.
In an explosive report issued yesterday, Special Counsel Robert S. Bennett alleged that Barry had done the following:
*Steered a city contract of $15,000 to his girlfriend, Donna Watts-Brighthaupt.
*Bought things for Watts, including jewelry and a coat, and paid some of her expenses, then later required repayment from checks that Watts had gotten from her contract work.
*Abused the D.C. Council's earmarking process by steering grants to organizations that he controlled through his staffers and associates. From the Bennett findings: "Special Counsel concludes that many of the grantee organizations to which Mr. Barry steered public funds were rife with waste and abuse, and provided substantial financial benefits to some of his close friends and supporters. These grants also effectively permitted Mr, Barry to circumvent laws and regulations that restrict the nature and amount of funds that can be expended for citizen-service programs."
*Stonewalled special counsel investigators and urged a "material witness" to do likewise.
So consider those offenses for a moment or two.
Now think about the countermeasures under consideration.
*The Washington Post editorial board this morning recommended that the council "follow the recommendations of its special counsel by repudiating Mr. Barry, stripping him of committee assignments and referring the matter for possible criminal prosecutions."
*Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh yesterday urged her colleagues to "condemn" their Ward 8 counterpart.
*Council Chairman Vince Gray has....[Googling, searching, calling] done absolutely nothing thus far. Perhaps he's waiting for Barry and others to avail themselves of their procedural rights to respond to the report. Then he'll cook up some half-baked resolution, if that.
Anyway, so you have a suggestion of condemnation from a councilmember along with a recommendation from an august panel of newspaper thinkers to strip the guy of his committee assignments.
Is that about right for the alleged offenses? Or does this small-time pol deserve something more severe?