Loose Lips

Loose Lips Daily: You’re Better Off Thanks To Barry Edition

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Good morning sweet readers! It's Thursday, and you all know what that means: Washington City Paper will spend most of the day wondering why salsa goes bad. It's also when our dead tree edition hits the streets. This week's cover is a look at all the dirty artwork the District's restaurants put in their bathrooms. LDP looks at how downtown is becoming a real neighborhood, complete with NIMBYs. And LL reports that City Administrator Allen Lew's inner circle includes private contractors who work for politically connected firms that regularly do business with the city. Not that there's anything wrong with that. News time:

You're All Better Off Thanks To Barry: Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry went on Fox 5 yesterday for a throughly entertaining interview about his re-election bid. Some choice quotes: On his legacy: "There's not one person in the District of Columbia who has not been helped positively by my leadership, simple as that." Handicapping his chances: "I'll probably get 70, 75 percent of the vote." On the rumors that he's planning on bequeathing his seat to his son Christopher mid-term: "I put that out as bait to a couple people, and they bit right into it."

AFTER THE JUMP: More Ethics! More Secrecy!; More Montel Williams!!!...

Yippee, Another Ethics Hearing: Yesterday saw another long, hard slog of a hearing on the council's ethics bill. Most interesting was Attorney General Irv Nathan's appearance, in which he used not-really-that-veiled language to chastise not only the council, but his boss, for not publicly condemning Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. after he got caught using public funds to buy an Audi and eat at Hooters. "A number of our citizens have expressed disappointment that there so little condemnation by most elected officials of apparent violations of others," says Silent Irv. Wonder what Mayor Vince Gray thinks about his underling calling him chicken. In related news, TWT crunched the numbers and found, surprise, that constituent service funds are helping politicians a lot more than the needy. "A Washington Times review of 10,000 payments totaling $3.3 million since 2004 shows that just 3 percent or $84,000 has gone to power and water bills, presumably for needy constituents, and $37,000 for phone bills. More — $133,000 — has been spent at pro sporting events. Members also spent about $22,000 for delivery of bottled water and wrote $63,000 in checks to themselves, reimbursing themselves for meals with constituents and undisclosed other expenses from the so-called constituent services funds."

Overly Secretive: Wonder how much of your tax dollars go to potential layabout/conquering hero U.S. Attorney Ron Machen's office? For some reason, he thinks you're better off not knowing. But at least he gave a clue: less than $500 million.

In Other News:

  • Montel Williams stumps for medical marijuana.
  • Turns out a Walmart in Skyland won't break the neighboring Safeway's covenant after all, at least according to the city.
  • A city booze inspector is suspended following allegations he was comped $1,280 worth of booze in one night.
  • Chuck Thies says ethics bill should allow for councilmembers to expel each other.
  • D.C. spends $26,000-a-year on transportation per special ed student.
  • TBD still exists, and they sent a photographer to follow Ron Moten.
  • Fight over moving firefighters from 24 hour shifts to 12 hour shifts will likely not be pretty.

Gray sked: 9:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.: Volunteering at Food & Friends/Launch of Many Hands, One Purpose Food Drive; 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: Severe Winter Weather Tabletop Exercise; 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Mayor’s One City Community Service Awards Luncheon; 1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.: Dunbar Senior High School Post-Turkey Bowl Victory Rally; 6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.: Whitman-Walker Health World AIDS Day 2011 Candlelight Vigil; 6:50 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.: Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals.

Council sked: Hearing on D.C. government compliance with CBE requirements at 9 a.m.; Civil Marriage Dissolution Equality Amendment Act of 2011 at 11 a.m.; Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking Regulatory Practice Enhancement Amendment Act of 2011 at noon.

  • Terry in Silver Spring

    Look at old video of Barry from before he was mayor sometime, back when he was with SNCC and Pride Inc. He was smart and charismatic. You look at him now and see an old burned out buffoon, better known for drug arrests and corruption. Don't forget who he WAS, though, and what Pride Inc was to the city especially after the riots.

  • Keith B.

    When did WCP stop being best friends with TBD? You guys used to link them like it was going out of style. Did it?

  • Truth Hurts

    Kudos to silent Irv. He's absolutely correct. It's shameful that Mayor Gray, Council Chair Brown, and all but three or four CM's continue to embolden Harry "f... the kids" Thomas by not calling for his ouster.

    All elected officials who remain silent on HTJ should be shown the door, including those I otherwise respect and have supported in the past. Shame on these spineless pols.

  • tony

    Marion Barry will be elected again because he understands something about politics that others on the council will never understand and/or accept---retail politics. Yes, Barry understands that all politics are local. Thus, his political agenda and advocacy is aimed specifically to benefit his supporters and voters. Unfortunately, too many black politicians get elected by a certain constituency and then fail to follow through with some good ole' retail politics. Thus, they are viewed as -out of- touch or aloof. And, any politician who is branded as being out -of -touch by his voters is politically weaken and beatable. Look at all the black council members who are currently viewed as weak and beatable. Yvette Alexander, Vince Orange, and Muriel Bowser. All of them share one thing in common--they failed to serve as a strong voice for those that elected them. More to that point, every black Mayor of this city who eventually suffer defeat did so because they lost the confidence of their own people. Notice, that Harry Thomas remains a very credible and vibrant elected official in this city even with his mishaps. One can point to his grassroots politics and strong community advocacy as the source of his political survival. The only way Marion Barry can be beaten is if someone comes along who shares his politics and promise to provide the same level of leadership and advocacy that Barry perfected. Moreover, the ideal successor must sell the idea of continuing Barry's legacy opposes to replacing it. Until that happens, Barry will remain in office for as long as he wishes.

  • Blevins

    Tony, if Marion understands retail politics, then riddle me this: why does the statement that ward 8 is home to the last, the least, and the lost (Barry's words, not mine)still ring true, almost 40 years since Marion came on the scene. Given the unemployment numbers both today and historically, one could argue that he has neither led for his ward, nor effectively advocated for it. What say you?

    And you are insane if you think that HTJ remains a credible and vibrant elected official, rather he's simply biding time till the perp walk.

  • SEis4ME

    @Blevins, Barry hasn't been the Ward 8 rep for 40 years so I'm not sure the point of your above post. In fact, he's only been the rep since 2004 (or so). So you hold him responsible? Well why not extend that same responsibility to Mayors Fenty and Williams since both of them were in office during this same "history."

    It's akin to asking "why is there still poverty in America when we have two political parties." The obvious insinuation is that democrats and republicans must be responsible.

  • Chinaski

    "Thus, his political agenda and advocacy is aimed specifically to benefit his supporters and voters."

    No. His political agenda is aimed at self preservation and personal enrichment. That being said, I agree with you that he is a strong retail politician.

  • tony

    @SEis4ME,I could not have responded any better. You are 100% right. I would just add that Barry has been an elected official in this city for more than 40 years and he has out lasted the best that the "man" had to offer. In my judgment such speaks volumes when it comes to whether he understands retail politics better than most.

    In terms of Harry Thomas, he remains a very important player. The reality is that Harry still has a say on what type of laws are being enacted which you and everyone else in this city must obey. He is still the official representative of over 70,000 residents in Ward 5. He still maintains the power of a public office, and all that comes with it. Again, such is so because he learned from his DAD and Barry that little thing call advocacy.

  • Blevins

    @SEis4Me, point taken on Barry's time in Ward 8. That said, what's he accomplished in his 7 years there? Still the land of the last, least, and lost, right? Still the highest unemployment (may be neck in neck with ward 7)still the only ward in the city losing population, right? Actually, maybe ward 7... so given these things, it's impossible for Barry to say that everyone in the city has been impacted positively by his 40 years in government, as a huge swath of the city clearly hasn't been.

    Tony, and HTJ remaining on the council is a GOOD thing, in your opinion? Seems like you only see one thing when thinking about what makes a councilmember good or bad.

  • tony

    @Blevins, I will address the insinuation that Barry represent all bad and no good. Barry's record of public service is well known and defined. It was he who literally created entire black middle class both in D.C. and Prince George's County. It was he who provided black folks with city contracts, employment and other opportunities that no other politician in this city provided to the last,least and lost. It would be sufficient to say that Barry has done more for black folks in this city than all the other politicians in this city combined.

    Secondly, the notion that Barry legacy should be marred merely because he represented a city with poor people is absolutely silly. Every city in this country has pockets of poor people. Such, a dynamic could be improved but not eliminated. Really, I don't understand that point. Now, let me ask you a question. Would that line of thinking apply to all politicians in this city and,for that matter,in this country?

  • Keith B.

    tony, I think the feeling some get is that he's resting on his laurels, and has been for over a decade. But you do make me think there's similarities between his recent career as CM and Jack Evans -- both well oiled political machines, though they run very different sorts of hustles...

  • TheHermanCain

    Marion Barry will be elected again because the people competing against him run the same kind of campaign I do: idiotic.

    On the other hand, I got more money and get more pussy than Barry.

  • Honest Abe


    I understand your points about Mayor Barry, however I cannot see any positives in the thief & cheat HTJ. I live in Ward 5 and know for a fact many residents cannot wait to sign a recall petition.

  • SEis4ME

    @Blevins, you're arguing a nonintellectual point. Your logic portends that if there was another more capable and effective CM, then Ward 8 would be what? Ward 8 would become the land of the first, most and the steady?

    That makes absolutely no sense. To suggest that Ward 8's economic condition is such only based on our Ward's rep is just looney. Straight looney toon.

    Those of who actually LIVE in Ward 8 are well aware of what positive changes that have happened over the course of the last 7 years. Who "you" (or anyone else) give credit to is second to the facts of well-documented progression.

    One more thing about that strange logic of yours, since Ward 8 has been the last, least...blah blah during the past two most recent administrations Fenty and Williams, I assume you think they we just as ineffective as Barry right? Oh nah, of course you don't.