The full D.C. Council voted 9 to 4 this afternoon to give Marion Barry his second Council censure and recommend that he lose his committee, despite attempts by some councilmembers to water down the punishment recommended Monday by an ad hoc committee that looked into it.
Next, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson will put his own recommendation about what to do with Barry’s committee to a Council vote. Mendelson says that he will probably have his proposal ready when the Council meets on Oct. 1.
Barry, who’s being punished for taking $6,800 from city contractors, began the hearing by claiming that the committee didn’t have the authority to recommend that he lose his own committee. Despite the advice of Council attorney Dave Zvenyachthat the ad hoc committee could make the recommendation, Barry continued to insist otherwise throughout the hearing.
Vincent Orange then tried to strip the resolution of the recommendation that Barry lose his committee, following a logic proposed this morning that ad hoc committee members David Grosso and Anita Bonds were angling to take it for themselves. Orange argued that, because Barry has already been censured and fined $13,600 by the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, he had already been punished enough.
Jack Evans, Ward 2 councilmember and mayoral hopeful, then tried to amend Orange’s amendment to reduce Barry’s censure to a reprimand.
“Councilmember Barry brings an enormous expertise of many years to this body and should continue as a committee chairman with his expertise,” Evans said. Both attempts failed, despite receiving votes in support from Orange, Barry, Evans, and Jim Graham, who was himself reprimanded earlier this year.
With the attempts to reduce the severity of the resolution finished, Barry started speaking directly to councilmembers who were voting in favor of the censure, including ad hoc committee chairman Kenyan McDuffie and mayoral hopeful Tommy Wells.
“Tommy, I understand that,” Barry told Wells. “I don’t necessarily agree, but I understand that.”
But Barry’s mood turned less forgiving after the censure resolution passed, over the nay votes of Graham, Evans, Orange, and Barry. Speaking to reporters from the dais, Barry suggested he isn’t the only member who’s violated ethics rules.
“There are members of the council who see themselves as champions of ethics,” he says. “But those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery