Loose Lips

Marion Barry to Post Edit Board: Drop Dead!

Yesterday the Washington Post editorial board opined that Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry's proposal to limit cash welfare payments to five years was a "conversation worth continuing." It's not every day that the Post writes semi-nice things about Barry or one of his proposals—so it's a bit of a head-scratcher that the day before the editorial ran, Barry fired off a pretty nasty letter to editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao, which he copied to fellow councilmembers and Post big wigs Don Graham, Katharine Weymouth, Raju Narisetti and Fred Hiatt. (Barry did not copy LL on the e-mail, in case you were wondering.)

"I must say that your known dislike and disdain for me personally and politically should not absolve you of your responsibility to be professional," said Barry's e-mail near the top. "Professionally you have a responsibility to come to a conclusion on issues after looking at facts, and then forming an opinion on behalf of the Washington Post. Therefore, I expect you to stop your past approach and be fair."

From there, Barry goes on to try and make some tortured point that his welfare-limiting proposal wasn't borne of "frustration," but because he believes "the present system has failed; it keeps people enslaved in joblessness, poverty, and a dependency on the government, generation after generation, rather than lifting them up and giving them an opportunity for self sufficiency, through job training and/or employment."

How those conditions aren't frustrating is anybody's guess. But Barry felt the need to go on the attack: "You should be ashamed of yourself for thinking I introduced this bill out of frustration. I don't introduce bills out of frustration; I do it because there's a need to change and a need to make life better for the residents of the District of Columbia, and you know that."

And. You. Know. That. Jo. Ann.

LL is not sure what Barry's goal was in sending that e-mail, but maybe it's worth noting (though probably not) that Armao did not use the word "frustrated" in the editorial.

Want to be confused some more?

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells says that Barry said he wouldn't vote for his own proposal. And in his letter to Armao and Co., Barry reminds her that "legislation very rarely ends up the same way that it starts."

But, Barry then also sounds like he would vote for his own proposal:

"However, I'm firmly committed to a five-year limitation."

Okay, fine. But in the very next sentence, Barry says: "The enemies of the people who suggest that I would be so callous as to advocate the removal of some 8,000 recipients from the [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] rolls, individuals who have been there form [sic] more than eight years, ought to stop spreading fear among the TANF recipients."

What!? Make up your mind, MB.

Barry concludes by saying that if everyone commits themselves to launching "massive job training and career development programs," then the city can create job opportunities for 15,000 District residents looking for work. Good luck with that.

LL tried reaching out to Armao for comment, and will update if she has a response.

Update: Armao's response: "Thanks for asking but no comment other than what I write is always informed by my reporting."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • drez

    Does Barry have a new team of advisers and ghost writers?

  • Bewildered

    There is a profound irony here that Marion Barry would introduce such legislation. He's been on government assistance for the last 40 years. During the brief period when he wasn't drawing a check from DC prior to his current stint on the city council, he appeared to be near death every time he was on the news. Now that he's back sucking on the government tit, he's born again.

    Marion Barry is the biggest welfare recipient in the history of DC public assistance. Where else in America can he get a job, other than the DC government? And a $90,000/year job at that. Where else would that tired old man with no skill other than wiliness be able to make that kind of money?

    If he really wants to save the District some money, he should take his tired old ass somewhere not subsidized by District taxpayers in any way and free up that council seat for someone actually interested in doing the work of a city councilman and not just using the position as a platform for occasional, meaningless grandstanding.

  • Truth Hurts

    Marion sure nuff told WAPO off!

    I hear WAPO's circulating his email internally with the subject line: "Say What?"

  • obeseSEpreachersstink

    Pee Gee Cee (PG COUNTY) is more funnier,corrupt,inept,morally deficient,wasteful,entitlementally bi-polar and just a bunch of laid back citizens but I love me some DC poltics.
    And who in the fuck will we call when the current hosts go.

  • off by like, i dunno, 20K? More?

    Not to belabor the obvious but there are way more than 15,000 unemployed people in DC with the 9.5% rate we got going.

  • freedmanhospital

    @bewildered...we can tell you fit into one of the following categories...

    (1) A business owner with ties to the parking garages

    (2) A outsider with only the impression that the media gave of the skills of Mayor Barry i.e., drug abuser, whoremonger, loud mouth Barry (yes, we know he may be those things too, but he loved the DC-tonians)

    (3) A councilmember that lost the seat to him or wanted to get his seat

    (4) A young professional (whi.. of course) who has brought up half the property in those impoverished areas for financial gain

    (5) A justice system leader that wants to keep the poor poorer (no criminals no justice system...right?!!) and the homeless homeless and the uneducated uneducated


    (6) Some Sheet wearing coward that thinks with his little head and his bank account!

    Oh yeah, and about the old man comment...just hope someone cares about you when you get to be a senior if you do get to be one.

  • Bewildered

    @freedman...we can tell you're not an FBI profiler. Six generalizations and none of them are remotely close.

    Born and raised in DC. Family's been here for generations. SYEP alumnus.

    Barry is taking far more from the District taxpayer than he is giving and that's been the case for a number of years now.

  • jjtomas

    I see a lot of you don't know C.M. Barry. Too bad!!

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