Marion Barry Again Disapproves
Marion Barry is back to his disapproving ways.
That is to say, the Ward 8 councilmember's old habit of obstructing city contract awards and internal funding shifts, once thought cured, is back with a vengeance.
Any councilmember is within his or her rights to introduce a resolution disapproving a particular mayoral contract or funding shift (aka reprogramming), adding two weeks to a month to the process.
In the first two years of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration, Barry filed more than 90 of them, far outstripping the 30 total that had been filed by councilmembers in the previous two years.
In late 2008, the obstructionism prompted a crisis of sorts, when a Barry disapproval resolution threatened to end payments for key city services. Attorney General Peter Nickles intervened and ordered the contracts paid anyway, precipitating a council-mayor tussle that continued well into last year.
At the urging of D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray and others, Barry had kept the practice to a minimum through 2009. But he's now back in action: Since being stripped of his committee in early March, Barry has filed disapproval resolutions on 10 contracts and reprogramming requests.
All told, Barry has filed 19 contract and reprogramming disapprovals since the council term started in January 2009—more than one-third of all such disapproval filings filed by councilmembers.
Barry earned scorn this morning from one of his colleagues, at-large member David A. Catania, who said that one of the disapprovals in particular—with the George Washington University School of Public Health to do epidemiological research—threatened the heath and welfare of residents in his ward.
"This kind of conduct is bizarre to a nonpolitician," Nickles said this afternoon. "It's like a child trying to draw attention to himself. He's trying to prove his disagrees with the administration....Basically what he's doing is completely disrupting the normal processes of government."
What's he also doing is getting attention for himself in the weeks after he was legislatively castrated by his colleagues for the misdeeds aired in the Bennett Report. Barry's lashing out the only way he can—as LL predicted.
LL reached Barry this afternoon and asked about the new spate of filings. He refused to explain his rationale with LL personally, saying he would issue a statement.
LL proffered to Barry that he might be unhappy with Fenty administration unresponsiveness. "You don't know that," he said. "I'm gonna put out a press release."
Photo by Darrow Montgomery