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Scene: The park next to the MacBarrys’ home in Southeast, overlooking the city.
Time: A recent Saturday afternoon.
Lady MacBarry: [sensing her husband’s dark mood] Why dost my husband’s countenance harbor stormy clouds on a such a fine fall day? The tartness of thy face would sour ripe grapes.
MacBarry: Even the ripest grape would embitter my mood. I tremble at the approaching turmoil of the election season, which, I fear, could be my last.
Lady MacBarry: Milord doth stain his lips to let pass over them such words of doubt that his kingdom will stand beside a leader who belongs on a pedestal next to Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.
MacBarry: How do I fool the people into staying by me this time? What slogan shall I concoct? How about: “Three Strikes and You’re Out, But I’ve Only Got Two”? Or perhaps, “United in Impotence”? Then again, maybe “I’m Not Done Yet” shall suffice.
Lady MacBarry: [covering her ears with both hands] No! No! No! Don’t think such dark thoughts! He who believes milord can no longer command the support of at least one-third of the kingdom’s voters sees a fool when he looks into the mirror.
MacBarry: Ah, but milady lingers too long in the past, or she would know that as little as one-fourth of the electorate still professes an unbending loyalty to her master. That may not be strength enough, with all the forces being marshaled to defeat me.
Lady MacBarry: O, merciful God! Strike me deaf in both ears lest I hear another sound escape my husband’s tormented soul.
MacBarry: The voters still greet me with a summery countenance. But they no longer share my deep revulsion against the establishment overlords who tried to destroy me with that unjust drug trial. That revulsion hoisted me back into the mayor’s office three years ago. Now, the voters grow weary even in my fortresses, Wards 7 and 8.
Lady MacBarry: [clasping her husband’s hand to her breast] I beg of thee, give flight to these vultures of doubt.
MacBarry: My subjects know that they can only get the foot of the control board and Congress lifted from their necks by turning against me. Once they do, federal riches will flow to the kingdom again.
Lady MacBarry: Thy words chill my soul like winter’s wind. I fear milord plans to take heed of such ill advice that he should not seek re-election.
MacBarry: Milady must not have heard the wagging tongues. Else she would know that my servant, Warren Graves, who toiled so long under my hand and served me last as communications director, has taken up kinship with the ambitious man-boy Jack Evans of Ward 2. Evans now dareth to boast that, with Graves at his side to guide his campaign, he will strip me of the title of Mayor-for-Life come election season.
Lady MacBarry: Graves! His words are like Judas’ own children. Milord showed wisdom by banishing Graves to the lowly water department at foul-smelling Blue Plains during thy third administration. But thy wisdom took wing two years ago, and Graves was fetched back to thy inner circle.
MacBarry: That was Johnny Allem’s deed, not mine. And when Allem fell from favor with milady last year and was ordered from thy sight, the cunning Graves stepped forward to take his place as communications director while my attention was turned. When he chose to take early retirement last February, I was glad to be rid of him. But now he returns to assist others at they seek to rob me of my kingdom.
[To himself] Milady doth not know that Graves’ roving eye for the same maiden whose beauty pleased his Lord drew the servant’s exile to Blue Plains. ‘Tis well that milady sips not from the gossip’s bowl.
Lady MacBarry: Graves’ presence doth give the lily-white Evans a darker hue that more closely resembles the color of the people of thy kingdom. But he will need more than the coyote Graves serving as his emissary to the African-American populace.
MacBarry: I do not dread Evans’ advance, even with Graves as his general. But the powerful and the money-lords in this kingdom no longer tremble at my approach, and are seeking an African-American candidate to march against me. Therein the danger lies.
Lady MacBarry: But their sowing will produce a fruitless harvest. Thy enemies may pluck At-Large Councilmember Harold Brazil to ripen as their candidate. But Brazil is just another John Ray, though broader hip to hip, who supped too much of the fowl and the grape. Brazil’s presence taketh up the rays of the beneficial sun and keeps them from the earth. Milord will dispatch Brazil as swiftly as thou did Ray.
MacBarry: Brazil lacks the spine to challenge me. He will seek refuge in the excuse that the control board and Congress have rendered the mayor’s office so powerless that it is now beneath his station. It is not Brazil I fear but Kevin Chavous, the councilmember from Ward 7.
Lady MacBarry: Chavous is but an empty suit. Even thy staunchest enemy, the dastardly Washington Post, finds no kernel in that nut.
MacBarry: But milady must remember that even an empty suit can be tailored to look attractive. And an attractive African-American challenger will be my most treacherous foe.
Lady MacBarry: [grabbing her husband’s hand and leading him deeper into the park] Come, let not politics disease our better mirth and the autumnal splendor around us.
[The two stand silently gazing upon their kingdom below.]
To be continued…
•Ward 4 Councilmember Charlene Drew Jarvis last week pulled the plug on Barry’s plans to install former WRC-TV Channel 4 reporter Leo Alexander as head of the city’s Office of Cable TVa transparent ploy to turn Channel 16 into an arm of the mayor’s re-election campaign. Barry was sold on the idea by his communications director, Linda Boyd, a strategist who reportedly helped Alexander land his current job flacking for D.C. General Hospital after he quit the TV news business. Barry and Boyd fired Cable TV head Doreen Thompson last month to make room for Alexander.
But Hizzoner never counted on Jarvis’ canceling his re-election miniseries. After all, councilmembers have rarely challenged Barry’s appointees during his nearly 15 years as mayor.
A Jarvis aide said the councilmember’s power move springs from her concern over renewing the city’s cable TV license. Although the license doesn’t expire until 2000, the renewal process has already begun, and Jarvis considered Alexander totally unqualified to steer the city through the regulatory gantlet. Thompson, on the other hand, is an attorney with experience in regulatory compliance.
Barry last week denied reports that he planned to install Alexander as the city’s cable TV czar. His denial, however, came after Jarvis torpedoed his plans. Meanwhile, Boyd has taken over running the office until the mayor decides what to do about the vacancy he created. Boyd’s qualifications for the job are every bit as sparse as Alexander’s: She specializes in PR. She may soon begin feeling the heat from Jarvis if Barry fails to find a qualified candidate.
•For months, members of the Community Advisory Council (CAC) have complained to D.C. police chief Larry Soulsby that they’ve been shut out of meetings on improving the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). The closed-door meetings are conducted by a management reform team known as the “MOU Partners,” which was set up by the control board in March to wrest control of MPD from Barry. The team includes Barry, Soulsby, and the Booz-Allen consulting firm, but no community representatives. After a steady lobbying campaign by CAC members, Soulsby promised to let them in but then dithered instead of following through on the pledge.
Tired of waiting on Soulsby, CAC members last week bypassed the chief and went straight to Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.), who chairs the House D.C. Appropriations subcommittee. Taylor sympathized with the group’s request for openness and inserted a provision in the D.C. spending bill allowing a CAC representative inside the meetings.
Soulsby blew up when he learned of Taylor’s meddling and last week threatened to fire the CAC, which advises him on MPD’s community policing. “Soulsby was furious,” relates a CAC member. “He said some of the MOU partners would quit if they have to allow community representatives in these meetings.”
So much for government in the sunshine during the control board era.
•Shaw advisory neighborhood commissioner Leroy Thorpe called to complain about LL’s report in last week’s column that he embraced the alternative plan by the Committee of 100 on the Federal City for private development of the Shaw site. Thorpe had criticized the convention center plan for gentrifying the neighborhood, and LL pointed out that development of “Shaw Village” could lead to even greater gentrification.
Thorpe said he opposes both the convention center and the Committee of 100’s plan to turn the tract over to private developers for construction of retail shops and apartments for families with median incomes of $60,000.
“That ain’t the median income of Shaw,” Thorpe notes. “That shows the ignorance the Committee of 100 has regarding this community.”
Thorpe said the group of city planners and business owners devoted to preserving the L’Enfant design would have to increase its minority membership before he would consider supporting its activities.
Some people make careers in this town out of being opposed to everything.
•The control board is proving that Barry doesn’t have a lock on cronyism. The control board last month approved two department heads for city agencies who have strong ties to board members. Jearline Williams, installed at the Department of Health and Human Services, is the wife of Eddie Williams, head and founder of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Control board chairman Andrew Brimmer serves as chair of the center’s board.
Lynn Arnaiz, wife of new Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs director David Watts, is a close family friend of control board vice chairman Stephen Harlan and his wife. And Harlan’s former accounting firm, KPMG Peat Marwick, is the beneficiary of consulting contracts from the control board.
Harlan says he abstains from any decisions and discussions involving Peat Marwick.
“It’s a small town,” notes D.C. auditor Tony Cooper, who was foiled in his attempt to audit the control board’s contracts and possible conflicts of interest.
And in a small town, you have to rely on your cronies to be consultants.CP
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