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Mayor Marion Barry by now knows that control board Chairman Andrew Brimmer is the big cheese in town. In their numerous and well-publicized fights—over budgets, personnel, and city management—Brimmer, equipped with the federally conferred powers of District dictator, has pummeled Barry into submission time and again.
So what a surprise it was to behold the mayor and the venerable chairman posed side by side, only a handshake apart, as equals—on a now-vanished web site titled “Washington, D.C. District of Columbia.”
The page positioned images of a grinning mayor opposite an assured-looking chairman. The only thing separating the two in the District’s cyberspace version of co-governance is a badly cropped shot of 1 Judiciary Square—not Vernon Hawkins, or Anita Shelton, or a host of other Barry appointees who have rankled relations between the city and control board.
Although the page’s sponsor has pulled the images off the web, it has left a foaming and typo-ridden primer on the mayor’s political career (available at http://www.usbol.com/ctjournal/Mbarrybio.html). But what the site gives in biographical depth it takes back in timeliness: The last news update is a bland, vintage-1995 article titled “The Mayor Has Prostate Cancer.” And while web browsers mourn the mayor’s health problems, they can gather old news on Brimmer: “D.C. Control Board Fires Hawkins” reads a shallow report on the most bitter dispute to date between the city’s top elected and appointed officials.
The site’s sponsor is the Congressional Times Journal (CTJ), a self-described online “Capitol Hill Newspaper.” Although CTJ’s editorial staff appears to be AWOL, an e-mail query on the site was answered by Robert Bush, who disavowed any affiliation with CTJ. Bush says the images of Barry and Brimmer as the city’s No. 1 power couple were pulled because they were judged too “controversial.”