When Linda Greene announced that she was taking a leave of absence this past spring as Ward 8 Councilmember Marion S. Barry Jr.’s chief of staff, it marked the passing of another powerful woman out of the aging politico’s life. Ex Cora Masters Barry could be aloof and secretive. Former publicist Raymone Bain brought glamour and combativeness to the job. Greene, in turn, carved out her own wingwoman MO.

Like Bain, she brought style to her flacking role, even when deflecting questions about the boss’s drug use. She wore leopard-print pants. She talked of having dated soul singers.

At the same time, she presented a softer side of Barry PR Inc. Rarely did she respond harshly to jackass reporters. For instance, it took two Washington City Paper scribes hounding her at home in Anacostia to make Greene a little testy.

She might have had the toughest job in the John A. Wilson Building. Her job description didn’t begin to cover her role as Barry’s ever-present consigliere. She was his caretaker, driver, hand-holder, time-keeper, and true believer.

And e-mail writer. Recently, the Washington City Paper obtained the councilmember’s e-mails through a Freedom of Information Act request. We found that Barry did not send out a single e-mail for the roughly two-month period requested. During that time, the councilmember was hospitalized for diabetes and hypertension, was revealed to have failed a drug test, and was allegedly robbed outside his Southeast apartment. Minding his e-mail fell to Greene.

Here are some selections from Greene’s correspondence documenting her life, loves, and shrinking constituent-services fund. Good luck, Linda, and sorry about that late-night visit. If only you could have gotten your boss to return our calls.

The Councilmember’s e-Cards

From: Hamil Harris[Washington Post staff writer]

To: Linda Greene

Subject: Re: Barry To Hold Press Conference Today

Tell Marion

I am praying for him and you

These are trying times but God has not changed

From: Linda Greene

To: Hamil Harris

Subject: RE: Barry To Hold Press Conference Today

Amen, it’s good to hear from you….

From: Marie Drissel[longtime political muckety-muck]

To: Marion Barry

Subject: glad you survived

Dear Marion,

I just finished 5 weeks of DC Superior Grand Jury duty. We heard 92 cases. It was a life altering experience. I have been on both DC petit jury trials and federal trials but nothing has been like this grand jury experience.

We heard cases involving so much violence….Having a gun to your head is so scary that I cannot imagine how you feel today.

We really need to get rid of the drugs and thugs. I am more committed then ever to help to solve this wide spread violence. Again, I am so glad that the trigger was not pulled. It would have been such a loss.

Let’s resolve to help get rid of the stupid violence.

Marie Drissel

From: Harold Brazil[former at-large councilmember]

To: Linda Greene

Subject: MLK Day

Happy new Year Linda. I saw you in the paper recently: looking good! I have been to the MLK Day parade since its inception—it always has been the coldest day of the year. You have defrosted that frigid issue. Good job!

Please give me a date when we can go out and have champaign. Tell me who you would like to bring and we will go from there….Also, I am sorry that Marion had the difficulty with the young hoodlums the other day.

Harold

From: Linda Greene

To: Harold Brazil

Subject: MLK Day

Thanks, Harold. You are so kind! I was thrilled when the committee brought it up, I almost jumped out of my [seat]! I’m so glad it was “their idea, suggestion and recommendation.”

Okay, I’m good on dates in January. Throw out some. I think the only person I would invite is my Leo. I’m looking forward to really spending some time with you, just like we used to———-in our childhood:))))

Linda

From: Michael A. Brown[current mayoral candidate]

To: Linda Greene

Subject: Re: I watched

I’m always on fox…my mom thinks they r so 2 the right..so she loves how I stand up 2 those repubs….by the way u r doing a great job under some tough times..stay strong..I’m very proud of u!

From: Linda Greene

To: Michael A. Brown

Subject: Re: I watched

And I’m proud of you. Gotta get Tamia involved in your campaign. She just started a new job this week so give her a couple of months. Give alma my love. I miss her. Its been a very rough beginning for 2006.

Love you

From: Michael A. Brown

To: Linda Greene

Subject: Re: I watched

By the way I said some very good things about ‘MB’ on the radio the other day..I was taught that u never run-a-way from your friends.

From: Linda Greene

To: Michael A. Brown

Subject: Re: I watched

Thanks dear

What a Girl Needs

From: Bill Howland[Department of Public Works director]

To: Linda Greene

Subject: RE: Barry Statement Re the MLK Parade Date Change

Linda

Happy New Year!!

Thanks for the note.

To: Bill Howland

From: Linda Greene

Subject: RE: Barry Statement Re the MLK Parade Date Change

And, Happy New Year to you, Bill! It’s good to hear from you. Have you ordered some larger recycling cans for me at home? Let’s meet soon for coffee or something stronger. Linda

Craig Engle: Lobbyist, Temp Nurse, Career Counselor

From: Linda Greene

To: Craig Engle [Arent Fox lobbyist]

Subject: Re: hail

Hi Craig,

Just recuperating today from our victory yesterday! What a sweet feeling! We both love basketball, but not when my skins are playing. Kevin called me on Friday and we talked a long time.

Craig, I may be leaving Marion sooner than later and maybe this week. I have nothing lined up but the full package is just too mentally, physically and emotionally draining, especially at this stage in my life. That’s why I wanted to see you the past couple of days.

From: Craig Engle

To: Linda Greene

Subject: Hail

OK – we should talk immediately. – what are you doing after work tomorrow? or can you get away for lunch?

[Editor’s note: Despite the time stamps, the correspondence happened in the above order.]

From: Craig Engle

To: Linda Greene

Subject: RE: what do you think about having lunch today at arcadiana at 130 pm?

can I come over and help or go to the hospital?

From: Linda Greene

To: Craig Engle

Subject: RE: what do you think about having lunch today at arcadiana at 130 pm?

No, it’ll be okay, fluid on his legs, should be out today. you are so wonderful.

Barry’s Empty Coffers

From: Catherine Marquette[director of community relations, D.C. United]

To: Linda Greene

Subject: FW: Proposal from Commissioner Sapp

Hi, Linda,

Happy Holidays!

I’m sure that you are busy dealing w/ what happened to Mr. Barry last night…how awful! I hope that he is okay.

Quick question for you: did someone in your office refer Commissioner T’Chaka Sapp to us here at D.C. United regarding funding for an educational trip of his? He forwarded us this letter attached and mentioned that someone on your staff suggested that he call us….

While we obviously want to assist the community, we cannot assist everyone, and in particular individuals. We would rather work with an office, such as yours, or an organization and concentrate our efforts in that manner….

Hope your 2006 is going well…

Catherine

From: Linda Greene

To: Catherine Marquette

Subject: RE: Proposal from Commissioner Sapp

Hi Catherine:

A very busy and exhausting day here. Yes, Councilmember Barry and I referred Commissioner Sapp to you because our Constituent Fund was depleted and we couldn’t raise anymore money for the year. He had raised all but $500.00. Also, I don’t know anything about a lady calling wanting money for Christmas. That was not a referral from our office….Sorry about that.

Know that we love you and hope to see you soon.

Linda

From: Bernadette Tolson[special assistant to the director, Department of Employment Services]

To: Linda Greene

CC: Marion Barry

Subject: NFBPA Checks for Tickets

Hi Linda:

Can I hold you responsible for getting the checks for you and Marion for our NFBPA Gala :

I can pick up your checks anytime. I need all checks by Wednesday, January 18th…

From: Linda Greene

To: Bernadette Tolson

Subject: RE: NFBPA Checks for Tickets

Hi Bernie:

I’m not sure if we will have the funds by then. This week allowed no time for fundraising at all. I have $17 in the Constituent fund….Right now, we have no money anywhere. So, you can just put Marion down (and that’s not a problem at all with me). It’ll be easier for me to just get his money. In all honesty, I really don’t mind. I’m exhausted and you will be there to take care of him.

Linda

Marion Barry: the Movie

From: David Whitehead

To: Linda Greene

Subject: RE: Marion Stage Play and documentary

I will stop by to meet with you and Mr. Barry. Give me a Tuesday or Thursday for the meeting.

There is no rush. I send Spike Lee’s agent [the] request today. I will present the proposal to you and Mr. Lee and the Studio. Simply, let Marion know and ask that his group think about the amount….

From: Linda Greene

To: David Whitehead

Subject: RE: Marion Stage Play and documentary

David: We’re in no position to reply to this question. Councilmember Barry has not authorized a film and therefore I cannot make any comments at this time….

From: David Whitehead

To: Linda Greene

Subject: Re: Marion Stage Play and documentary

I met with Donna yesterday. There are three possible directors for the Motion Picture on the Life of Marion S. Barry: The Rise Fall Rise of a Mayor by David L. Whitehead…

I have received emails from Cissy Tyson and Iyvania Vanzant for the lead role. I ask Effi Barry to consider a part in the film. She laughed….

As for lead role as Marion S. Barry’s character: I think that Delroy Lindo would be most appropriate….

To: David Whitehead

From: Linda Greene

Subject: Re: Marion Stage Play and documentary

David,

I need a complete written proposal, scenario, budget, etc to present to the councilman and his counsel first. Once you provide this information I can talk to him and his lawyer, but not until then. There will also have to be approval by the ethics committee and the citys council. Until I receive this information there is no need to meet. We are extremely busy and ward issues come first….

From: David Whitehead

To: Donna Rouse [Barry’s scheduler]

Subject: RE: Film on Marion S. Barry

Will Mr. Barry’s Office respond to my film inquiry?

David

From: Linda Greene

To: David Whitehead

CC: E. Faye Williams [Barry’s staff attorney], Donna Rouse

Subject: RE: Marion Stage Play and documentary

Hello David:

I hope all is well with you. In response to your question, you need to speak with the Councilmember’s attorneys on the matter beginning with Dr. E, Faye Williams who would have to talk to the City’s attorney before it would move any further….

From: Linda Greene

To: Donna Rouse

Subject: Re: Film on Marion S. Barry

Donna:

This is the guy that we don’t want anything to do with. Just tell him that he has to meet with the councilmember’s attorney on this matter.

Just the Essentials, Please

From: Linda Greene

To: Donna Rouse

Subject: Shredder

Please place an order for a shredder for my office. Thanks!

Linda

From: Linda Greene

To: Donna Rouse

Subject: Forgot to tell you

He wants you to call Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in Detroit to tell he wants 2 tickets to the SuperBowl.

The Pesky Media

From: Trent MacNamara

To: Linda Greene

Subject: GQ magazine interview request

Hi Linda—

My interview won’t have any particular script. It’s meant to be conversational (my questions won’t be in the fnal text, so the thoughts need to flow together).

With that in mind please see below some of the questions I’ve been using as back up with my other interviewees, in case the conversation stalls:

-Do you think after years, you’re any sort of expert on love? Possible to be an expert?

-Broad lessons you’ve learned?

-Wisdom from your family, friends?

-Anything a good man/woman tends to do? Bad?

-Should you ever lie in a relationship?

-Think people are meant to be with just one person?

-I’m a young man. Anything I look for in a woman?

I’m looking for broad advice and wisdom, not dirt or details. Only Mr. Barry’s words will be in the magazine, without introduction and without my questions. The idea is simply to print whatever Mr. Barry says….

From: Valencia Mohammed[staff writer, the Afro American]

To: Linda Greene

Subject: How can we help?

The AFRO wants to know what can we do to help. On the other hand, James Wright is going after Barry to beat out the Post writers. Will Barry speak with me? Many people around the city link everything that has happened in the last few days to the baseball stadium stuff. Hit me back.

Is your office only entertaining questions from the White Press? Or are you blocking them from speaking with you or him like the AFRO is getting blocked? Do you want me to come downtown?

Valencia M.

From: Blaine Smith[associate editor, America’s 1st Freedom]

To: Linda Greene

Subject: Interview request w/Mr. Barry

Ms. Greene:

I am on the editorial staff of the National Rifle Association’s political publication, America’s 1st Freedom. I send this e-mail requesting an interview with Councilmember Barry regarding his recent victimization and any correlation this might have to Washington, D.C.’s current gun laws.

I could interview Mr. Barry by phone if this would be best for him; even by e-mail if needed. Whatever is most convenient for Mr. Barry. I have only a few brief questions, so would take only a few minutes of his time.

Also, let me personally say that I’m happy to hear that Mr. Barry wasn’t injured, and I commend him for being quick to state that he held no grudge against those who have wronged him.

Thank you for your time….

R.I.P. Lou Rawls

From: Bruce DePuyt [NewsChannel 8 host]

To: Linda Greene

Subject: Hi!

Linda,

It was great talking to you the other day on Sam Ford’s cell.

Is there any chance of us getting Councilman Barry on NewsTalk in the next few days?

The Maryland and Virginia legislatures kick off on Wednesday, so Weds. and Thursday are going to be tied up with that, but I would sure love to get the Councilman on in the first part of the week if his schedule allowed for it.

I promise to come up with a good song for the occasion. (Maybe something from the late Lou Rawls, in honor of his passing today.)

Take care.

—Bruce

From: Linda Greene

To: Bruce DuPuyt

Subject: Re: Hi!

Bruce:

Lou and I knew each other for many years and, in fact, dated seriously in the late ’90s. I would simply die if you broke out in song.

Unfortunately, Marion’s attorneys do not want him to do any interviews right now. Whien I get the okay from them, you will be the first person I call. I hope you understand.

Always,

Linda

From: Linda Greene

To: Barry’s council staff

Subject: John Allen, Jr.’s Arrangements

Hello Everyone:

Tonight is the Candelight Vigil for former Ward 8 Councilmember Sandy Allen’s son and tomorrow is the viewing and the funeral. I think the Councilmember will be attending both, but I am not sure. As Chief of Staff, I am aware that I should appear or attend all events just out of respect. However, I am dealing with the loss of my former fiancé, Lou Rawls. It has affected me more than I thought. I simply cannot be around any mourning at this time. I hope you understand.

Please let me know if anyone is able to attend tonight and tomorrow, either one or all events. We do need representation and I’m hoping it will be strong.

Always,

LindaCP

Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Emily Flake.