Sign up for our free newsletter
A day later, LL’s ready to assess the fallout from Marion Barry‘s unprecedented smackdown:
Winner No. 1: Adrian Fenty. Once again, the Barry circus has distracted local political reporters from Hizzoner’s political troubles. The Washington Post dropped a Sunday A1 story about his pillow-soft support in the black communtiy, but it was quickly forgotten amid all the Barry news.
Winner No. 2: Michael A. Brown. The council’s most junior member got a significant boost in power by taking over Barry’s housing and workforce development committee right the the middle of a budget cycle. In terms of raw numbers, Brown now oversees a serious portion of the city budget, outpacing some of his more senior colleagues. And the accompanying $350,000 staff budget doesn’t hurt, either.
Winner No. 3: Vincent Gray. The council chairman handled a difficult job with aplomb. He convinced big-name attorney Robert S. Bennett to investigate Barry’s misdeeds, he let him do his job, and acted on his recommendations when it was all said and done. For the first time in years, Barry saw real consequences for his misdeeds, and Gray made sure all of his colleagues were behind it. Perhaps a launching pad to the mayoralty.
Loser No. 1: Anthony J. Motley. If the close Barry confidante previously had any hope of mounting a serious challenge to At-Large Councilmember David A. Catania, it has faded into oblivion. Bennett’s report raised questions about his conduct serious enough to cast doubt on his ability to occupy an ANC seat, let alone citywide office. Some city precincts might still buy what he’s selling, but not many.
Loser No. 2: Area building contractors. A Brown-sponsored measure threatens to force union labor on all projects that get even a modicum of city assistance. The bill had been referred to the housing committee, where Barry—-who has always known how to look out for the deep pockets, in spite of his reputation—-was widely expected to spike the union-friendly provisions. But with Brown in charge, who knows?
Loser No. 3: Gray. Despite his laudable performance in shepherding the Barry investigation and sanctions to a laudable conclusion, the chairman remained true to his collegial, plodding, incrementalist nature. He made little attempt to keep Barry on a leash as the process played out, which perhaps could have spared the council embarrassment. Gray left him on the finance committee long after he proved his repeated failure to pay income tax. He refused to call for Barry’s resignation. And instead of abolishing an earmark process fraught with potential for abuse, he left the door open for its future use. Gray’s made himself a creditable mayoral candidate, but not yet a winner.
LL would love to hear additional suggestions in the comments.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery