What Should Happen To Marion Barry? A Survey of Ward 8 ANC Commissioners
City Desk did a survey of ANC commissioners in Ward 8 today to find out: As the D.C. Council considers what, if any, action to take against Marion Barry following the release of the Bennett Report, what do you think should happen to him?
Mary Buckley, of ANC 8B: Buckley says "everyone should be treated the same." If the Council is planning to take any action against Marion Barry, "there should be policies, something in writing, that what happens [happens to any councilmember], not just Marion Barry. If there's a policy that already exists, a purely outlined policy, then everyone should be treated according to the written policy. I don't think there's any law that Marion Barry violated to be singled out to be treated differently." She says Barry should "absolutely not" step down. "He hasn't done anything to step down for." She adds: "This is an allegation," she says. "The court hasn't found Marion Barry guilty. If a court finds Marion Barry guilty of anything—or anyone else—they would have to face the consequences."
Barbara Clark, of ANC 8A: Of the Bennett Report, she says, "It seems like that whole thing was a gray area, for me. 'Cause it was pretty opinionated, because there was nothing that I could see, that it was just a thing of what other people do. Sometimes you might hire a friend. ... I'm saying these things happen. I wish they would concentrate more on the positive things he does." She doesn't think Barry should step down: "I'm a native Washingtonian, and I know how he has championed for the have-nots. I don't see anybody right now that I can put a finger on to say that champions the have-nots. We need to think about that. Because somebody needs to think about the poor people. There are a lot of homeless people here. And not only that, just Ward 8 itself, it is one of the poorest, it's the poorest ward in Washington, D.C. It's all social services, no business or anything else, unemployment, a lot of ex-offenders are housed here, and crimes. It's all economics, and I always felt like some of the things we do have, the programs we do have, is because of the former mayor." She adds: "As far as I'm concerned, he's always, always has looked out for the poor. I think sometimes things get taken out of context. I'm not saying Marion has always been—he's a very charismatic person. He's a good-looking guy, and no matter what, women are always going to after any man who's in power, anyway. ... Look at Tiger Woods." And to those who say Barry is too old to serve, she says, there are U.S. senators in their 80s and 90s. "He's functioning well. There's nothing wrong with his mind. He's a brilliant man. He definitely hasn't forgotten where he's come from."
Olivia Henderson, of ANC 8D: Laughing, she asks, "Will this be held against me? They always say that I'm very confrontational." She continues: "I'm not saying he was right or wrong. However, there should be some type of consequence." Should he step down? Henderson says she isn't sure anyone would even notice if he did. "We do need better leadership over here in Ward 8. He is my representation and leader when I look for a councilmember, and I just feel as though something needs to happen now. I don't know how they impeach a person or anything like that. But we hold these people accountable for what they state. I understand what he has done in the past. But what is he doing in the future? I definitely think that he needs to be made an example out of. If not, they will continue to keep doing the same thing over and over." One more thing: "It really doesn't even matter if he steps down or not because I don't think he represents us at all."
Mitchell Hawkins, of ANC 8B: "Actually, I have not been following up with it. A lot of people tell me I should keep up with current news and things. I've been hearing about it, and I know there's some investigation or something like that going on. I don't know the outcome of it." He thinks Barry should step down because of his health problems. Otherwise, he adds, "I think it should just be dealt accordingly as if it was any other councilperson."
Carolyn Bridges-Ward, of ANC 8A: "Something I don't agree with is this lady [Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, Barry's ex-girlfriend]—she's the main course to the problem. The lady who Councilmember Barry was supposed to have given the grant to, if she truly worked for the grant, there's no problem. But I'm saying if she didn't truly work for the grant, then that should be a problem." Bridges-Ward doesn't care much about Barry's personal life. "I'm a Christian, so I feel like what happens in people's bedroom should stay in people's bedroom. It's not doing the community no good." And she doesn't think Barry should step down. "I don't see the need of him stepping down, not unless they find some discrepancy. I can't tell the government what to do, I'm just saying. If there's any monies to be paid back... or if there's not any discrepancies, just move on. It's enough of that out here already." Should there be any punishment at all? "Are you going to punish him for having an affair, or are you going to punish him for doing the wrong thing with the grant? I wouldn't remove him, not at this stage. No one is perfect, I'm just saying. I say let's move on."
Absalom Jordan, of ANC 8D: First, Jordan says he finds the Bennett report "flawed," in part because "we don't know the level of evidence that constitutes proof" of any potential wrongdoing. "We don't know if it has to be overwhelming evidence or clear and convincing." Second, Jordan says, Barry has apologized to the council. The council can't remove him: "No one can stop him from serving." He adds: "My concern is that I don't see enough evidence that would warrant him stepping down. He has said he accepts responsibility for certain things, that he admits that he shouldn't have done some things. He said he made some mistakes. He's apologized. I'm not looking for him to step down."