Housing Complex

Shit Marion Barry Says, Annotated

Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry was in full-on campaign mode last Friday on the Politics Hour, stubbornly resisting Tom Sherwood's attempts to interrupt his re-election stump speech with various "distractions." Besides his tweeting habits, a few remarks are worthy of note:

10,000 units of housing during his tenure on the Council? "When you go around Ward 8, The face is 180 degrees different. When you go down Martin Luther King Avenue, go down Minnesota Avenue, go down Alabama Avenue, the highrises on Mississippi and Wheeler....To get 10,000 units? it took a miraculous kind of leadership to do that."

  • Those corridors have improved a bit, sure, but "180 degrees different" is world-class hyperbole. Also, I'm not sure where he's getting his housing numbers, but if there are 10,000 more housing units, they're not necessarily occupied: The Ward's population stayed essentially flat from 2000 to 2010, while the rest of the city grew. 

On the Department of Homeland Security's new headquarters at St. Elizabeths west campus: "That doesn't affect us. There are 13,000 people working on the Joint Airforce Base. And they only have about five percent D.C. residents, out of 13,000. And unless we get the federal government to change its policies, we will get 14,000 people, with the same numbers. But I'm excited about the east side. 100-some acres, the first RFP should go out in the next couple months."

  • Opinion is somewhat split on whether the DHS consolidation will actually do Ward 8 any good, what with the walled-off campus, tight security requirements, and low percentage of employees who are District residents. And Barry is right to draw the analogy with Joint Base Anacostia Bolling, which is for all intents and purposes not a part of the city at all. But federal attitudes towards relating with the communities around their secure campuses are evolving, and while it's not smart to depend entirely on DHS for revitalization, the Ward's next councilmember should try their hardest to attract employees and ancillary businesses to move there.

On encouraging homeownership: "I've led the efforts for homeownership. We're going to do at least 6,000 units homeownership, take the boards off those houses, turn them into condos. Going to try to take every available land we can find that's not developed and work to develop it."

  • Barry's certainly on the right track when he talks about restoring vacant properties, which Ward 8 residents voted as their top development priority at a summit a few months back. But it's not clear how, exactly, he proposes to accomplish this. His most recent "effort for homeownership" was prohibiting new apartment buildings. So at least he's not talking about that anymore.

On the recommended architecture team for new Ballou Senior High School: "I don't like it, because it's an all white firm, but we're going to deal with that. We want Ballou to be an example of local, disadvantaged business participation, because 99.9 percent of students at Ballou are African American, and I'm tired of these developers coming in and developing, say a school, and the majority of the money goes outside the city. We're going to stop that."

  • I certainly hope he doesn't mean that he's going to put the kibosh on a contractor just because they're white, but I wouldn't put it past him.

On gentrification: "We welcome any and everybody into Ward 8 into the city. But we're not going to tolerate people coming in, pushing out long-term residents who've been there during the good times and the bad times. And so we welcome that. And so what's going to happen in St. Elizabeth's East Campus is going to have to be a mixture of people. We're not displacing anybody. There's going to be a mixture of people."

  • Bravo!

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Comments

  1. #1

    Can you imagine the shitstorm that would ensue if a white politician had said "I don't like that firm because it's an all-black firm"???

    And yet, Marion Barry says a blatantly racist statement, makes an implicit threat against the company, and the political "leadership" in this city is absolutely silent.

    Pathetic.

  2. #2

    On the recommended architecture team for new Ballou Senior High School: "I don't like it, because it's an all white firm, but we're going to deal with that."

    In DC, isn't the white firm considered "minority-owned"?!

  3. #3

    Re: Ballou
    Maybe he didn't say it in the most politically correct way, but I'm perfectly fine with the sentiment. Who wouldn't be?

  4. #4

    @Skipper, I'm pretty sure that in the reverse, you wouldn't have an issue with the sentiment Barry's expressing here.

  5. #5

    Note to SEis4ME: Calling out someone for being racist does not automatically make that person racist. If it always worked like that we would be in a perfectly cyclical racial clusterfuck.

  6. #6

    +1 @Skipper

  7. #7

    Oh, barry...you get more pathetic and racist with each passing day.

    And for the last time, the reason Ward 8 has such a high unemployment problem, and that the big meal ol federal governement doesn't hire more ward 8 residents, is because the base job requirement for any federal job, even as low as janitor is that the person be able to actually read. Oh, and not being a registered felon is typically a way to get to the first interview as well.

    Perhaps if you got on your soapbox every once in awhile and pleaded with your consitutients to stay in school so that their neighborhood has higher than a ~30% graduation rate and more than a 40% literacy rate, rather than going off on some crazy racial rant about white architecture firms, then Ward 8 could make some demographic gains.

  8. #8

    @SEis4ME - I'm pretty sure you're a hack that will forever excuse anything Barry does b/c he's sticking it to The Man.

    Here's who I think should get the design contract: The company that provides the best value to the District. Not a company that's connected to one Council member or a politico. Not a company that exists on paper as a CBE, but is actually run out of non-DC residents' homes. Not a company that has an awful or non-existent track record. Not a company that gives an estimate far beyond those given by any other competitor.

    An amazing concept!

  9. #9

    damn, people are so ignorant about racial issues. for the record, no. it would not be the same thing if a white politician said the same thing about an all black firm. how many all black firms do you all think there are anyway?

    i wonder how you all would feel if this was about gender? what if, for instance, an all male court was deciding on something that affected women? i wonder how that would go over.

  10. #10

    I CAN’T HOLD BACK WHEN I SEE IGNORANCE IN ABUNDANCE.
    I FEEL LIKE MY CITY WILL NEVER MOVE FORWARD BY THE FEELINGS EXEMPLIFIED BY THE COMMENTS OF FOLKS WHO ARE POINTING ONE FINGER MAKING CLAIMS WHEN IT’S FOUR POINTING RIGHT BACK AND THEY DON’T RECOGNIZE OR ACKNOWLEDGE THEY ARE WHAT THEY ARE CLAIMING OTHERS TO BE.

    BARRY’S STATEMENT WAS RACIAL NOT RACIST AND HE IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. IT SEEMS THAT THOSE WHO HAVE A PROBLEM WITH WHAT HE SAID ARE THE RACISTS. ALWAYS QUESTIONING WHY AND IMPLYING THAT BLACK FOLK CAN NOT TALK ABOUT RACE OR A RACIAL ISSUE WITH OUT SOME SORT OF CLAIM BY A WHITE PERSON THAT WHAT A BLACK PERSON SAID WAS RACIST IN NATURE.

    HEY RACIST WHITE FOLK IT IS GOING TO TAKE A HELLAVA MORE THAN SOME AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, BLACK REPUBLICANS, 13TH AMENDMENT, AND A 50% BLACK PRESIDENT TO ERASE OVER 400 YEARS OF SLAVERY, PERSECUTION, SEGREGATION AND CONSTANT RACISM TO ERASE THE AWARENESS OF INEQUALITIES THAT BLACK FOLK JUST OBTAINED LESS THAN 50 YRS AGO.

    YOUR PROBLEM IS YOU THINK THINGS ARE EQUAL AND OKAY BECAUSE WE RECOGNIZED THAT THEY WASNT AND WE FINALLY COMPLAINED. THEN “O’LORD IT’S A FUCKING MIRICLE” THE U.S. GOV’T FINALLY PASSED SOME LAWS MAKING IT ILLEGAL FOR WHITE FOLKS TO DO THE THINGS THEY DID TO US FOR OVER 400 YEARS.

    I HEAR MONTANA, WYOMING AND IDAHO GOT SOME SPACE FOR YA’LL! OTHER THAN THAT SHUT THE FUCK UP, COMPLAIN 400 YEARS FROM NOW AND DON’T BE UPSET IF YOUR FAMILY’S HISTORY SOME HOW GETS LOST ALONG THE WAY.

  11. #11

    Oh noodlez! You made far more sense when you were gone.

  12. #12

    Far be it from me to defend Barry in any way, but I can actually kind of see his point. In a day and age where practically every economic sector is diversifying--hell, even the K Street law and lobbying firms are making an effort to attract more minorities--it's rather sad that that the firm selected to redevelop a nearly all-black school in a a nearly all-black ward has nary a black person to be found among its ranks. This isn't a call for graft or corruption, or to merely hand the contract over to the contractor who has got the closest ties to city politicos--and, believe me, Barry's been guilty of plenty of that during his tenure--but surely the District and the development firm can make more of an effort in this regard? You'd really have to have your head buried pretty deep in the racial sandbox not to see how this decision could be offensive to some people. Now, whether Barry is truly offended or merely grandstanding in an effort to get some developer to drop some cash into his pockets, well, that I can only spreculate on. But his observations aren't totally out there in Racistville.

  13. #13

    @Dave, be careful, being reasonable might put you in the "anti-barry" category.

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