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The Informer has a good piece detailing Mayor Vince Gray‘s recent town hall forums on the city budget. His messages to Ward 8 and Ward 3 were clearly targeting different audiences:

In Ward 8, Gray talked about the $53 million budget item that would help build a new Ballou Senior High School and the $16 million for Dr. John Hayden Johnson Middle School. He also mentioned the $58 million for capital infrastructure investments at St. Elizabeths east campus in his budget.

The Ward 3 presentation contained the same material but had a somewhat different spin. He stressed that the University of the District of Columbia, the main campus located in the ward on Connecticut Avenue, NW, will receive $39 million for facility modernization and the building of a new student center.

The D.C. Council members who represent Wards 8 and 3 had different approaches to the town hall meetings, as well. D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), a four-term mayor, came into the Savoy gymnasium after Gray started his presentation and when, given the opportunity to speak, blasted Gray’s budget.

“I do not support this budget because it is balanced on the backs of the poor,” Barry, 76, said. “I did not come to break up this meeting – and I am known for doing that – but I just don’t like this budget.”

Gray said [if it was] Barry’s intent to break up the meeting, he didn’t appreciate it.

“I will not back down from anybody,” the mayor said defiantly. “If you step up to me, I [will] step right back up.”

However, across town, D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) proved to be far more courteous.

“I want to thank the mayor and his budget team for their hard work,” Cheh, 60, said. “I am pleased with the budget overall but some changes will be made.”

Read the rest at the Informer.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery