City Desk

Marion Barry: ‘I Should Have Known Better’


When Robert S. Bennett last Tuesday unfurled his findings on the transgressions of Ward 8 Councilmember Marion S. Barry, he ran into a stone wall. Accused of unethically steering a contract to his girlfriend, among other serious allegations, Barry contended that he couldn't have broken rules that didn't exist. "I'm a different kind of councilmember," he said, defending his actions as necessary to leading the city's poorest ward.

No contrition whatsoever.

One week later, the sense of denial has ebbed, and into the mix has creeped some remorse. "I should have known better," said Barry at one point in his remarks at a 2 p.m. press conference today at the Union Temple Baptist Church in historic Anacostia.

That slight admission of culpability was actually one of the few ad-libbed remarks that Barry made at the presser. The rest came off a prepared statement that Barry delivered before leaving without answering substantive questions from reporters. Here are some highlights of the proceedings, as reported by Loose Lips columnist Mike DeBonis. In parentheses are the logical questions that would have been asked if Barry had been accepting them.

Here are some snippets from the performance: "I serve and represent a community that is in distress both economically and otherwise....a community that is resource-poor." (Then why steer a contract to a girlfriend and also endow hastily created nonprofits with city money?)

"Therefore, a councilmember who represents such a ward has to be more than just a legislator. He has to push for resources and to demand quality city services. He has to help uplift the people of the ward and give them a sense of hope." (How does steering a contract to a girlfriend supply hope?)

"Even though there was no violation of conflict of interest, there was a violation of law of good sense and law of sound judgment....I should have known that even though there is no law against it, it didn't look good. It raises too many questions." (Are you just now coming to this conclusion?)

At this point, Barry acknowledged that he should have either ended the relationship and continued the contract or continued the relationship and ended the contract. "I did neither and, again, it was very, very poor judgment on my part. On the personal side, I should have given up much earlier on repairing a relationship that was not repairable. If I had used sound judgment at the very beginning, we would not have had July 4th." (You mean, we would have gone straight from the 3rd to the 5th?)

"I apologize for my actions and lack of sound judgment and for causing great embarrassment to the city and the city council. I am truly, truly sorry. I intend to work as hard as I can to help repair the damage and I am also committed to work even hard for the residents of Ward 8 and the city." (Have you had any discussions with D.C. Council Chairman Vince Gray or other councilmembers on what tone you needed to strike to avoid a censure resolution?)

One other tidbit from the presser: Barry lawyer Fred Cooke has drafted a response to the Bennett report, but the councilmember's camp would not share it with reporters.

On-the-scene reporting by Mike DeBonis; on-the-scene photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Woodley Parker

    Well, I guess it's all good now. Keep moving -- nothing to see here.

  • The Advoc8te

    I wish there was such a thing as an integrity transplant. If so Barry should be at the top of the list.

    I will say it again, as a resident of Ward 8 if Marion Barry had even a rice sized sense of decency and shame he would resign so that we could move ahead.

    If he is so great why hasn't he done a damn productive thing in all these years as Councilmember? He sucks end of story. He is the worst thing that could have happened to Ward 8 and we hope he would either resign or go to jail (or both).

    When will the city council grow a pair and pass legislation to impeach him and end this farce?

    The Advoc8te
    -Pissed off Ward 8 resident

  • Truth hurts

    Best question (if Barry'd allowed them): Have you had any discussions with Vince Gray or other CM's about what tone you needed to strike to avoid a censure resolution?

    The answer, of course, is: YOU BET I HAVE.

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  • Rick Mangus

    This clown (Barry) is bringing the rest of this city down and will continue to keep this city down, this is why DC will never have representation.

    He (Barry)comes across as a 'Jive Ass Player' from a 70's throw back movie. He (Barry) is an embarrassment to this city, and needs to be locked-up and forgotten!

  • joejoe

    Recently, a realtor showed me a nice property in DC. The price and specs were good until I researched and discovered that it's located in Ward 8. Guess what? Upon discovering that Marion Barry represents Ward 8, the deal was dead on arrival. So, I remain commuting and taking DC dollars and spending it in MD suburbs. Barry lost that sale.

  • epicdcsnow

    Don't be so hard on Barry. He is only doing what they allow him to do. And that's be him.

  • Anonymous

    "When will the city council grow a pair and pass legislation to impeach him and end this farce?"

    Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is one definition of insanity--just like waiting around for the folks in this exclusive club to save you from one of their members.

    If you think Barry is a joke and needs to go, then get off your butt and do something about it! Start a recall movement. You have a nearly two-year window (until January 2, 2012) to file a recall petition with the Board of Elections and Ethics.

    It's very hard work but doable. Even in Ward 8. That would scare the bejeesus out of the rest of the cabal and gain you some respect.


    Marion Barry should join Teddy Kennedy in a cemetery. God don't want his ass in heaven and the Devil don't want his ass in hell. However, we the residents of the District of Columbia have to suffer Marion Barry's by behavior on earth.



    Marion Barry should join Teddy Kennedy in a cemetery. God don't want his ass in heaven and the Devil don't want his ass in hell. However, we the residents of the District of Columbia will have to suffer from Marion Barry's behavior on earth.

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  • If it walks like a duck

    After that scathng Bennett report, I can't wait to see Barry's lawyer's SPIN on this. Hopefully the full Council has the stones to censure and take away his chairmanship.

  • Alleged Whistleblower

    Do not forget his Puppets:

    Motley, Brenda Richardson, Patrice Sheppard, Maria Powell, Bunn and a host of others.

  • sedcdude

    UNBELIEVABLE, these comments are o indicative of the lack of conscious and reason to see that WHITE IS SUBJECT AND BLACK IS SUSPECT!!

    That damn Bennett garbage is filled with ALLEGATIONS that implicate Barry in nothing, but mirror typical WHITE politics anywhere USA!

    Nothing short of the donors/contributors or tactics of Sach, bank of America, JP Morgan-Chase and other major corporations in cahoots with the majors!

    Be careful what you ask for, YOU JUST MAY GET IT!