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D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray refused to commit to take action tomorrow on the findings of lawyer Robert S. Bennett—-including sanctions for Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry—-potentially backing off a timeline for action Gray set two weeks ago.
Action on Barry, found to have misused taxpayer funds, and the recommendations of the Bennett Report does not appear on the agenda for Tuesday’s regular legislative meeting. But Gray said today a special meeting could be called for tomorrow, immediately after the regular meeting, to deal with those issues. Then again the meeting could be delayed.
Any additional time, Gray said, would be necessary to examiner Bennett’s supplemental report, which was prepared to address responses from Barry and others. It will be delivered to Gray today and in turn distributed to members. “We want to make sure that all the issues that are attendant to this are fully and effectively addressed as best we possibly can,” Gray said.
Issues such as: If Barry’s removed from his chairmanship of the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development, who would replace him? And if Barry’s taken off other committees, how would those lineups shuffle? Gray said it’s not necessarily the case that At-Large Councilmember Michael A. Brown—-currently without a committee as the council’s most junior member—-would take over the panel. In fact, another member might give up his or her current panel setting up a domino of reassignments—-right in the middle of a difficult budget cycle.
Gray said he’d met for Barry on Friday for 90 minutes, He said Barry has not offered to voluntarily resign as committee chair. Barry, Gray said, “did not offer to do anything.” Gray also said he’s “heard no discussion” about having Barry removed from all of the committees he sits on.
Reporters pressed Gray hard, both during the monthly press conference and afterward in the John A. Wilson Building
hallway. At one point, under relentless questioning from WTOP’s Mark Plotkin, Gray snapped: “Can you understand why we’re trying to do this right? Do you realize people’s lives are involved in this?….You know what? You’d be the first one to criticize something that was half-baked if we put it out there.”
Added Gray: “We’re trying to move this as quickly as we possibly can because I really think it would be good to get it over with as quickly as we can for everybody that’s involved….Nobody wants to sit around any longer than we have to and address this any longer than we have to. But I want to do it in a responsible way.”