July 1995

The financial control board, created in the summer of 1995, loses no time telegraphing its intentions. Even before it has leased an office, it makes a point of throwing Barry’s proposed $3.6-billion budget out with the trash and grabbing for contracting power. Still, from Barry’s point of view, the control board has none—the strings of influence and the wires of bureaucracy still lead straight to him.

September 1995

Barry plucks Anthony Williams from the depths of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and installs him in the newly created position of chief financial officer for the District. Williams initially positions himself as a “loyal Indian” to Barry, but within months he joins forces with the control board to fire Rodney Palmer, the city budget director. Words like “alarming” and “disturbing” are heard in the Barry camp.

June 1996

Vernon Hawkins of the Department of Human Services, long a venerated shrine for pilgrims seeking really juicy noncompetitive contracts, is doinked by the control board. Hawkins loses his job, and Barry loses his senses, comparing the board’s action to “what happened in Germany.”

March 1997

The control board strips Barry of the power to appoint top officials of the Metropolitan Police Department, eliminating his frequently deployed leverage over the department. Barry’s self-delusional response: “It empowers me.”

May 1997

Control board Chairman Andrew Brimmer suggests creating a city manager’s position that would be appointed and supervised by the control board, while retaining the mayor’s office in name and ceremony only. The idea is shot down for the moment, but it’s far from dead.

June 1997

Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on the District, adds insult to injury with legislation that would—in addition to stripping Barry of pretty much all the power he has left and giving it to Williams—reduce the mayor’s security detail from 31 officers to three. No more mayoral motorcades? What could be next?

Last Week

Congress and the president relieve Barry of any vestigial power. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton crows about preserving home rule by avoiding a city manager, a bit of rhetorical finesse that fools nobody. His abasement complete, Barry cries “rape.”

Today

Barry realizes he has all of the privileges of leadership and none of the responsibilities, making him the first Sovereign Monarch of the District of Columbia.

-Paul Belden