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So, Marion Barry has car troubles again. What else is new? The Ward 8 councilmember was in the news yesterday after he was spotted driving down Pennsylvania Avenue with the rear bumper of his silver Jaguar rattling along the pavement. Barry told The Washington Post that the car had been the victim of a hit-and-run while parked outside his home. It also apparently had been keyed. “When you live in the ghetto, this happens.”
Maybe. But when your name is Marion Barry, it happens even more. A rundown of some of Barry’s historical car troubles:
June, 1980: Early in his mayoral term, Barry is criticized for being chauffeured around town even as he was cutting other officials’ car budgets. A spokesman says that the city-funded driver allows the mayor to work in the car. Irked at the negative coverage, Barry moves to close the press office. The spokesman is reassigned.
June, 1984: While making an illegal U Turn, the then-mayor’s Lincoln Town Car collides with a motor scooter, causing minor injuries to the scooter’s driver.
May, 1988: Barry’s mayoral Lincoln Town Car is in an early-morning accident en route home from a night on the town that included a nightclub party in Georgetown and what aides call a “subsequent gathering with out-of-town associates at a private home.” Asked by reporters what he was doing out so late, the mayor describes himself as a “night owl.” His driver is charged with failing to yield.
June, 1988: Barry’s unoccupied car is damagaed by a passing freight train while parked too close to the railroad tracks near the Anacostia River. The Washington Times reports that the mayor was at an aide’s family party on nearby M Street SE at the time.
February, 1989: Barry is in an accident at the corner of 34th Street and Woodley Road NW after his chauffeured car runs a red light while its dashboard light is flashing. The other driver does not see the twirling light. No one is injured. A news crew from CBS’s 48 Hours had been trailing Barry for a profile; their vehicle drives him back to his office.
January, 1993: The Chrysler New Yorker purchased for Barry by supporters upon his release from prison is stolen on Barry’s very first day back on the D.C. Council. Barry tells police that someone snuck into his office and stole the keys during a legislative session. A gospel-singing former child prodigy is arrested; Barry initially suggests he may have known the perp, then says he had “no idea” who he was.
February, 1993: Barry auctions off the “haunted” New Yorker for $14,000—well above its stated value. Post columnist Courtland Milloy accuses him of selling out the friends and constituents who gave it to him.
Sept. 1, 1994: Barry’s car is booted outside the Post‘s building while he’s inside lobbying the paper’s editorial board for its endorsement in the upcoming Democratic mayoral primary. Department of Public Works officials say he had eight outstanding parking tickets.
Sept. 14, 1994: On the day that marked his triumphal return to the mayor’s office, Barry receives a $15 parking ticket for blocking traffic on election day. Police soon drop the ticket.
March, 2002: U.S. Park Police claim to have found trace amounts of marijuana and crack in Barry’s Jaguar after they found the former mayor, a private citizen at the time, parked in a no-parking zone at night near Buzzard Point. Barry later accuses them of planting the drugs. No charges are ever filed, but Barry and his wife separate soon after, and he abandons a comeback effort. He says he was in the desolate area to meet a friend who needed counseling.
December, 2010: Barry reports his Jaguar stolen. Police recover it several days later.
March 1, 2011: Barry’s car is booted over his failure to pay nine parking tickets with a cumulative fine of $705. After he paid six of them—at a cost of $520—the boot was removed.
March 31, 2011: The Post reports Barry has been driving an unregistered vehicle for six month. Rather than going through the legal registration process, the councilmember had apparently just transferred the license plates from his old car to his new one when he switched from a BMW to the Jaguar.
Photo of Barry’s silver Jaguar (parked in a crosswalk) by a City Paper tipster
UPDATE, 6:06 p.m.: Washington Post business reporter Johnathan O’Connell tweets out an incident we failed to mention:
July, 2007: Barry claims his Mercedes is sideswiped by a passing B2 Metrobus, causing significant damage. Though he cannot verify the incident—there were no witnesses, the bus was undamaged, its driver denied any incident, and Barry had not reported the accident to police—Metro’s general manager overrules a subordinate and orders that Barry be reimbursed $3227.40. At the time, Barry is a board member of the transportation authority. The Post reports that the cost of the repairs was about $1000 less than the payment.