City Desk

The Quiet Demise of Marion Barry’s Politics

Hours after Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry was harshly sanctioned by his D.C. Council colleagues yesterday, he retreated to Matthews Memorial Baptist Church, located on a bluff above Suitland Parkway, to deliver his State of the Ward address before hundreds of zealous supporters.

The narrative for such an event would seem rather pat: redemption, loyalty, Christian charity toward one's fellow man. The event, after all, took place in a church, among Barry's favored locales these days, where "judge not lest ye be judged" (an aphorism uttered plenty of times last night) allows Barry a space away from his many judge-worthy failings.

But LL spied a more cynical narrative, one that bodes ill for the councilmember and his ward. The Marion Barry system of retail politics—or put more bluntly, patronage—is dying, if it isn't dead already.

The key moment of the night came well before Barry's remarks, as Pastor C. Matthew Hudson warmed up the crowd. After asking Barry's political allies and staff to take a bow, Hudson had another request:

"Everybody that's ever received anything...if you've received anything—job, reference, promotion—from his service over these five decades, stand."

Up went virtually the entire crowd.

Hudson added: "Truth is, if we did that in Prince Geroge's County, the whole Prince George's County would have to stand. Say amen! How many of those got those houses out there because someone gave 'em a job. Someone gave 'em a chance."

Amen!

That theme continued with Barry's hand-picked choice to introduce him: Alberto Gomez, owner of Prince Construction Co., a contractor that's benefited from loads of government work over the years. In his remarks, Gomez gave Barry great credit for hiring Hispanics in his four mayoral terms and assisting minority businesses. He mentioned little, if anything, Barry's done since leaving the mayoralty.

And then came Barry to the podium.

"I love serving you. I love fighting for you. I love standing up for you. I love encouraging you. I love uplifting you. I love bringing as many resources to the ward that I can," he said. He continued: "I want to fight for you still. I want to commend you and encourage you still. I want to uplift you still. But. more importantly. I want to do all I can to put some money in your pockets."

The old saying "help you help yourself" doesn't mean much in Ward 8 politics, or at least inside Matthews Memorial last night. To Barry, being one of his constituents is about simply helping yourself.

Problem is, Barry's not in a position to help much of anyone any more, as his speech would prove. He bragged about transforming downtown as mayor, building a convention center and a sports area. He talked about the revitalization of U Street.

When he talked about the present, Barry defaulted to the usual litany about his ward—highest unemployment rate, highest dropout rate, highest illiteracy rate, boarded up buildings, crumbing sidewalks—but failed to mention much that he's done in the past year to do anything about it.

Even his lengthy prepared remarks—which he, thankfully, departed wholesale from—names only a couple of legislative accomplishments for the year prior: he boasts of supporting an unemployment insurance reform bill, legislation that has yet to pass through Barry's committee. And he talks about allotting $4.6 million for job training—0.07 percent of the city budget, that.

Sure, he calls for plenty—a 'Green Job Summit,' more experienced teachers, more affordable housing—but says nothing about what's he done to make it happen. Instead, "the pressure lies at Fenty's feet," as he was prepared to say last night. It's someone else's problem, he tells his constituents—that's why you're feeling "insignificant, misunderstood, underestimated, mistreated."

Truth is, now that Barry has lost his committee, won't be trusted with another earmark, and is at constant odds with a mayor who isn't nearly as forgiving as Pastor Hudson, he doesn't have much anymore to hand out besides empty rhetoric.

Which explains this plea: "When you judge Marion Barry, judge him by the whole book, not just three or four pages....Look at the 31 years I've served this community, the 31 years I've given of myself."

He's counting on no one asking: Marion, what have you done for me lately?

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  • Skipper

    It's time for him to go. And he needs someone he trusts and respects to tell him that.

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    Using the house of God for this criminals backdrop and to top it off this half-ass preacher who allows it is one for the books, how truely pathetic!

  • The Debutante

    Marion Barry has done nothing for Ward 8 lately and he needs to go. Rick, you are right, he is using the lords house to promote his crimes and that Pastor/pimp is just as bad. I went to church last sunday (not in ward 8 of course) and the lesson was about the dangers of living in past victories. Barry is no longer Mayor and he keeps Ward 8 down and out with empty promises.

  • Grumpy

    I've never seen a person 'milk' one 'victory' as much as Mayor4Life Barry has milked the youth summer jobs program. That one feat alone has garnered him love and affection for damn near 30 years.

    And yes, alot of you Negroes that moved to your mini-Mansions, waterfront, golf and gated communities in PG and MoCo have Barry's cronyism to thank for it cause you all ran wild in the 80's and 90's with 'hookups' from your now defunct small businesses, many of which scammed the city for poor services, double-billed services or services not rendered at all. But hey, those were the times right...it was just 'business', not personal right? LOL

  • sedcdude

    GRUMPY and RICKY

    NOW I GET IT! YOU PUNK, JEALOUS MOTHERFUKKAS REALLY DON'T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH BARRY, BUT MORESO THE FACT THAT NEGROS BEAT YOU 2 CRAKKA DOGS AT YOUR OWN GAMES, CAUGHTUP, PLAYED DA' GAME, MASTERED IT AND BEAT YOU AT YOUR OWN SHIT!

    FUNNY THING IS, YOU'VE MIND FUCKED THE HOUSE NEGROS TO DA' POINT OF SELF HATE THAT THEY ONCE AGAIN HATE THEIR OWN REFLECTIONS ie, the whistleblower, advoc8, and a few others who represent that particular GENRE OF BLACKNESS AND HAVE ASSISTED IN THE "LYNCHING" OF THEIR OWN PEOPLE!!!!

    MIC CHECK, NOT ME!! I'M HIP TO THE REAL AGENDA IN THIS CITY, CRACKAS LIKE YOU ARE NOT HAPPY UNLESS BLACKS ARE SERVIN' YOU UP OR ANSWERIN' TO BOY, YOU SALIVATE AT THE MERE SIGHT OF THE WORDS YOU SICK, PERVERTED MOTHERFUCKER!! BOTH OF YOU NEED TO COME FROM BEHIND THE PCs AND "ATTEMPT" TO RIGHT WHAT YU FEEL IS A WRONG, COWARDS!!!

    ALWAYS TALKING SHIT, COME FORWARD! FUCKING RACIST BITCHES THAT BOTH OF YOU ARE!

  • Truth

    BINGO!!!

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    You know, 'sedcdude' and 'black jack' in you're peevish mind you are nothing but the 'House Nigger's, no education, simple minded, looking to blam whitie for you're stupidy and lot in life, it's time to grow-up, an face life, dumb ass!

    There are NO free lunches in life. You bring SHAME to hard working and educated black people not only in this city, but around this country with you're lack of education and narrow minded views.

    You call your self BROTHERS, but sell drugs to you're own people, including childern and turn a blind eye when it come to reporting crime in the neighborhoods.

    You think it's COOL because of popular culture to be STUPID and INGORANT!, Bling, pitbulls, SUV's, Rims, and nocking-up a woman, does not make you a man, it makes you a BOY!

    You think people like Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Young are Uncle Toms, and sell-outs.

    Why is it that me, as a WHITE MAN knows and respects more about black history and culture than dumb asses like yourselves.

    The HIV level in this city is the highest in the US and higher than some some countries in the world, because most of the so-called BROTHERS in this town are on the "DOWN LOW!" . This is because a majority of the so-called dumb ass preachers in DC say HIV is a WHITEIE THING or a 'FAG" thing, RIGHT ASS HOLES!

    You ass holes embrace a adulteries criminal like Marion Barry, when you should stand by people like Colin Powell or Joe Clark and Robert Johnson, WHO you say!, look it up you morons if you can!

    You are pathetic antiques an a endangered species who will die in the dust of history with your own ingorance!

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    Look at the way you write and talk, it's shows your ignorance and lack of an education! As Capitan James T. Kirk would say on 'Star Trek', "the universal translator is off line!". That means speak ENGLISH, you uneducated pathetic ass hole!

  • TsionKopYNWA

    "...it's shows your ignorance and lack of an education...". and this sentence shows your lack of knowledge in using a spell checker or maybe you just don't know when and where to use contractions, Ricky boy. No more snow days, time to go back to school.

  • hymesb

    That is how politics work. Not just is DC. Not just with Barry. Everywhere.

    You can't just blow off what the man has done for people. So, in my mind, he deserves respect.

    What I find interesting is that Gray, Brown, Brow, Thomas all come from that system. They owe there whole political existence to it. Nepotism(Brown, Brown, and Thomas) and Cronyism (Gray) pure and simple.

    Now, in an attempt at calling a Kettle Black they have become MONSTER hypocrites.

    That has always been the center of the Mayor/Council tensions. They were mad that Fenty Admin was letting new people into their system. Sapping their "resources". "Hating the Black Community." So much so that now, they had to resort to pimping girlfriends and getting discount home repairs.

    They were mad about baseball tickets and Fenty was the bad guy because Barry's girlfriend couldn't sit in the private box.

    All in all, they cut their nose off to spite their face.

  • sedcdude

    Somebody call the HAZ-MAT UNIT cuz' I'll start to look at how I write when you no longer wreak of leaky ass juice and MANSPUNK you bigoted bitch! You are a typing and walking biohazard!

    CAPITAN, WTF is that a type of buttplug that you favor?????

  • Ward 8 Rez

    Barry is a crackhead, womanizing, has-been and it is time for him to go!!

  • WAHLERPLACE

    TRUTH YOU SINGLED ME OUT LAST NIGHT/THIS MORNING, I'LL BE BACK!!

    I GOT SOMETHING FOR THAT ASS WCP!!

    SEDCDUDE 4 LIFE FAGGOTS!!!

  • Carpetbagger

    So...no more paying back campaign supporters through earmarks and personal services contracts?...For real? It almost sounds like an honest individual has a shot at getting elected and putting in some real work.

    Uh oh...I might have to consider moving back to Southeast.

  • dcblackdaddy

    The welfare black baby mamas,lazy drug-dealing-behind-in-child-support-negroe-baby daddies,3 and 4 generation black welfare families,section eight bound,lazy will not work blacks by the thousands requires 33 years before any sea change for them Ward 8 uneducated Blacks.

    No disrepect to anyone,just the truth here and the whole damn truth from a black SE born,Ward 8, with limited education,married with 2 sons and I love DC but not the poverty snicker-snackers of Black people whovere they are.

  • Samantha

    Seems as though the comment above with it's vile and racist tone is indicative of the writer . Could this be one of the Fenty/Rhee Gentrification Movement ? Maybe he is describing his very own ancestors, family and associates .He knows himself as he looks in the mirror !

  • Alice M. Thornton

    It's interesting that "Rev." Hudson mentioned how many of those folks had homes in PG. I've noticed the number of MD plates in their lot on Sundays. Why didn't they stick around if they think Barry's so great? I'm a DC Native. My family has been here for many generations. I live in Ward 8, but IN SPITE OF, not because of Barry. My dad said the day would come when folks would finally wake up to Barry's nonsense; I only wish he'd lived to see it.

  • HeldResponsible

    Marion Barry need to go. He has not done anything in Ward 8 besides rip it off. Most people, not all people that reside in Ward 8 dont even care that they live in ruins or that the green space is actually brown space with wino's and horseshoes and no grass. The slide boards and parks are none existent and baron, but people clap for Barry because they are so disenfranchised they do not know they deserve better. It reminds me of the slave plantation, when you had a welcoming committee to welcome you into slavery. Trust and believe that Marion is hoping some of those ignorant negroes never wake up. They are welcome to stay on the plantation cause master give them watermelon on Sunday and throw them some fat back every other Wednesday after he sleeps with all of the black and beautiful slave girls.

  • http://CityDesk TONY

    Rick, you are nothing but a white ass racist termite that has crawl from the woodwork of hate. Go back to your trailer park!

  • http://CityDesk TONY

    Who is that educated whiteboy?Joke!

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