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Act 1. Scene 1.
The Setting: 1 Judiciary Square, the palace of Mayor-for-Life Marion S. Barry Jr. (aka MacBarry).
Cora Masters Lady MacBarry is encouraging a troubled MacBarry as he prepares to meet with the lords of the financial control board.
Lady MacBarry: Screw your courage to the sticking place, and we’ll not fail!
MacBarry: But I’d rather eat boiled rat from a rusty can on Good Hope Road than suck up to that pompous Andrew Brimmer. What care I that he is chairman of the control board? Such a board is beneath me.
How I loathe bowing before him! I’d rather duel Rep. Jim Walsh (R-N.Y.) on the plains of Congress than stare again into Brimmer’s smug face. I’d rather be interviewed for eight hours straight by Mark Plotkin than endure another lecture from that foul man, whose knowledge of city finances could not fill the bowl of a pipe.
Lady MacBarry: (To herself) Perhaps I should summon boxing champion Riddick Bowe to rid us of this turbulent chairman. No, such deeds must not be contemplated. At least not yet. (Turning to MacBarry) But you are chosen by the people. You are the one known far and wide in the Kingdom of Washington as “the financial wizard.” That’s what doth gall Brimmer so. He was elected by no one.
MacBarry: But Brimmer hath the eye of Newt. He was chosen by Lord Speaker Newt Gingrich, and he has the elephantine might of Congress to back him up. I am but a broken firetruck trying to battle the inferno that Congress has ignited in my kingdom.
And where are “the people” you speak of? Why have they not surrounded the palace to protect me? Why do I not hear them shouting my name?
Lady MacBarry: Calm thyself, my lord. They will come. This palace is hard to find, hidden in Judiciary Wood. The people still seek you at the John A. Wilson/District Building. They go there, and D.C. Council Chairman Dave Clarke thinks it is he, and not you, whom the people want. (She laughs heartily.) He thinks the people will turn to him if cancer fells you.
MacBarry: Ha! Clarke will tumble into the darkness of his own madness before I succumb to this mite of a disease. If my own doctors had not told me otherwise, I would have sworn I felt only the pain of Brimmer in my behind, not a bumptious prostate.
But worry no more about Clarke and the council, fair lady. When my loyal builder T. Conrad Monts begins to repair the Wilson palace, the offices of Clarke and his flunkies will be scattered so widely that the people will never find their councilmembers. Even their own staffs won’t be able find them, but will mew piteously like helpless kittens abandoned by their mother.
Lady MacBarry: Ah, my husband. (She caresses his kente-trimmed blazer.) That’s the true MacBarry spirit I see warming your blood. None can match your skills and cunning. Just look at how you tricked Councilmember Harold Brazil of Ward 6 when he blocked the appointment of Melvin Doxie to head the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance (OCF). That Brazil thought he was preventing you from putting an ally in that post. He probably still doesn’t realize that you rounded up the two votes he needed last week to kill Doxie’s nomination.
Brazil doesn’t understand that a weak and headless office is even better than one directed by a friend. Brazil just doesn’t get it. No wonder he’s been dubbed the Donna Rice of the D.C. Council.
MacBarry: (Smiling briefly) I was good on that one, wasn’t I? And besides, who knew whether Doxie could be trusted? Who knows whether any of them can be trusted anymore? They would betray me—all of them—if I gave them the chance.
Lady MacBarry: (Sensing her husband’s spirits beginning to sag again) You, no doubt, are thinking of that spy within our midst, Anthony Williams. Worry no more about the chief financial officer, my husband. He is like Brimmer, a mere shadow of you. He can’t match your knowledge of how the city works, how the money flows. No one can equal you.
MacBarry: (Resisting his wife’s attempts to build his confidence) Ah, but Williams doth worry me. He visited my palace not long ago promising to be “an Indian” and not another chief. He even praised my name. Now he sides with Brimmer and tries to squash my power at every turn. He and Brimmer have forced me to bring in another villainous spy, a so-called “inspector general,” who will peer behind every locked door, read every contract, and dig up all the secrets. I can’t have that.
Lady MacBarry: No, you can’t. We can’t. Some of your own supporters would then turn against us, traitors to the cause of Lord MacBarry. Look at Count Roy Littlejohn, the keeper of the lame, elderly, and homeless. Without those city contracts you gave him back in the 1980s to provide that pitiful housing for the homeless, Lord Littlejohn would be nothing today. Yet now he claims he can’t pay his workers at J.B. Johnson Nursing Home because your government wouldn’t give him the money he was owed. You were right to cancel the contract. But now he’s bold enough to claim that you didn’t cancel it, that he quit doing business with the city. That’s a laugh.
You should have rid yourself of him long ago. What kind of businessman would hire 297 workers to care for 236 patients? That shows how much he knows about making a profit. He is a little John indeed.
MacBarry: But Littlejohn was as solid as the ground we stand upon when U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens was laying waste to my kingdom and giving rout to my friends, lo, those many years ago. Now, even he is turning against me. All my friends are becoming mine enemies. And mine enemies are everywhere.
Lady MacBarry: Go and strike at Brimmer before the milk of courage drains from you. If that pack of baying media hounds is waiting with Brimmer when you arrive, be sure to throw your arm around your enemy. The hounds will see it, and howl it all over the kingdom. Then it will be Brimmer who looks like he is bowing to you, not the other way around.
(MacBarry exits, reluctantly.)
Lady MacBarry: Alas, my husband, he doth fret so. Perhaps we should plan another journey to Africa.
(To be continued)
Crime-weary D.C. residents are beginning to take police work into their own hands, especially on Capitol Hill. Three weeks ago, a young woman was walking to her car after work next to the CNN building behind Union Station when a mugger ripped her purse from her grasp. She screamed as her assailant fled, but nearby pedestrians stood motionless and stared—a much-too-frequent urban reaction these days.
But an elderly motorist who heard the screams knew what to do. He made a quick U-turn and smashed into the purse snatcher. According to a witness, the motorist then got out of his car, picked up the purse and returned it to the shaken woman before driv-
ing away like the Lone Ranger. He did not even leave his name.
The Hill was the site of another recent incident of vigilante justice. A cabdriver was heading toward Maryland on a Sunday afternoon two weeks ago when he spotted his father’s stolen car near 12th and Maryland Avenue NE. He also noticed two kids trying to jump-start the vehicle. Instead of phoning the police, the cab driver radioed an alert to fellow cabbies in the area, and several quickly arrived to surround the stolen auto.
“Within two minutes, six taxicabs showed up and blocked Maryland Avenue,” says a resident who witnessed the incident. When the cops arrived a short time later, the officers on the scene bought the youths’ story that they thought the car belonged to a friend who lives nearby, and they were trying to start it for him.
“The officers said, ‘Go tell your friend this isn’t his car,’” recounted the eyewitness, disapprovingly.
The moral of the story: The next time you’re a crime victim, don’t call a cop, call a cab.
MOHAMMED FAMILY VALUES
OCF has melted one of the clouds hanging over At-Large School Board Member Valencia Mohammed, target of allegations that she kept a ghost employee on the payroll who kicked back part of his paycheck to her. Two former employees, Kathy Judkins and Dorinda Benjamin, had made the allegations against their old boss. Benjamin also was purported to be a stepdaughter to Mohammed by marriage.
Mohammed’s board colleagues first got wind of the allegations last summer when they were interviewed by a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer as part of an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Attorney. In August, At-Large Board Member Jay Silberman asked the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics for a ruling on whether Mohammed’s employment of her stepdaughter violated the city’s anti-nepotism law. The matter was referred to OCF for investigation.
Acting OCF director Melvin Doxie recently cleared Mohammed of the nepotism charge. In a recent unreleased opinion, Doxie held that the employment of Dorinda Benjamin did not violate city laws because Mohammed and the employee’s father, James Benjamin, never legally married. Mohammed and James Benjamin often held themselves out in public as husband and wife, and Mohammed referred to him as her “former husband” during an interview with LL in July. But she also told OCF officials in August that she and James Benjamin had only exchanged “Islamic vows.”
“These ‘Islamic vows,’ however, do not constitute a civil or religious legally recognized marriage,” Doxie wrote in his Oct. 12 letter to Mohammed dismissing Silberman’s complaint as “without merit.” According to Doxie’s letter, James Benjamin also told OCF that he has been married to Dorinda’s mother for 31 years and was still legally married to her at the time he was living with Mohammed.
Mohammed told LL last summer that the allegations by the two “disgruntled” former employees were untrue, and she expressed confidence that investigators would uncover no wrongdoing on her part. The U.S. Attorney’s office has not completed its probe into Mohammed’s alleged kickback scheme.
Lately, Mohammed has been more concerned about cross-dressing in D.C. high schools than with any investigation into her behavior. In phone calls and a letter to school board President Wilma Harvey earlier this fall, Mohammed complained that boys are being allowed to attend classes dressed as girls.
“In one instance, the male students went into the female restroom which caused extreme problems,” Mohammed wrote Harvey in October. She added that more “volatile” problems occurred when males, “dressed like females with hair weaves, artificial breasts, and provocative female clothing,” entered the boys’ restrooms.
“The principal of one secondary school has conceded to allow (sic) these students to take over the male teacher’s restroom. Now, the teachers are upset!!!” Mohammed’s memo stated.
If current policies do not prohibit cross-dressing, the board ought to enact new ones that do, said Mohammed. “I do hope that our school system does not get a reputation of allowing ‘cross dressing’ as a symbol of freedom of expression,” Mohammed wrote.
D.C. schools have earned a bad reputation for plenty of things, but cross-dressing isn’t one of them. Mohammed has been the most outspoken board member against school privatization and other reforms. Some of her board colleagues wish she was as concerned about academic achievement as she is about drag queens.CP
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