City Desk

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?

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  • If it walks like a duck

    New prosecutor for DC should use Barry as a test case.

  • Clearly…

    As long as he is considering a run for Mayor, Vince Gray won't hammer Barry. Barry's base of support is Vince's only hope.

  • downtown rez

    Which in turn clearly says a lot about any prospective Gray administration.

  • Skipper

    Gray needs to be out in front of this, if he hopes to win any votes for mayor from west of the park good-government types. But I'm sure the most he will do is some wishy washy watered-down resolution saying Councilmembers need to adhere to even those basic ethics rules that are unwritten.

    Is it too late to change my vote to Kathy Patterson?

  • Truth Hurts

    Yes Skipper, it is too late. Too late for all those fooled by "one city" last time around. But perhaps you've learned from your mistake. That's a good thing.

  • hymesb

    Gray and the council are not about to end ear-marks. It is how they keep office. Without them, they lose serious political muscle.

    Gray is pissed that any of this happened. He, in effect, neutered himself. He attacks Barry...dead meat. He does nothing...exposed as hypocritical wimp."

    Gray: "Marion, why did u have to throw the woman out of your room? Is a little head worth all of this?"

    Marion: "shut up bitch! I run this. There is nothing they can do so let it slide. You ain't doing shit to me and I ain't leaving office. Mayor for life Beeotch! Try me, punk! I dare you."

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