We value your support now more than ever.
All year we’ve been covering the issues that matter most to you—the pandemic, the election, policing, housing, and more—and now our end of year membership campaign is here. Will you support our work to ensure we can bring you the same informative local reporting in 2021?
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Barry Press Conference: ‘Hearts Are Full’ Edition“; “Donna Watts-Brighthaupt Responds To Barry Stalking Charges Being Dropped“; “Prosecutors Drop Marion Barry Stalking Charge“; “Seegars: No Marion Barry Recall Planned“; “Marion Barry Caught On Tape (Again)“
Morning all. Last night, prosecutors announced that they would not pursue the stalking charge against Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, sparing him and lawyer Fred Cooke a trip down to city arraignment court this morning. The decision does not spare him the public ridicule and scorn he so richly deserves for the way he has treated accuser Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, both during their relationship—-as detailed in the anecdotes and voicemails LL details in his column this week—-and after, when he repeatedly dispatched spokesperson Natalie Williams to trash her reputation in front of TV cameras. And his foolish decision to raid his council office fund to pay Watts-Brighthaupt will only earn him the continued attention of reporters and, likely, prosecutors—-who declined to confirm or deny yesterday the existence of ongoing investigation into his financial dealings. The money angle implicates Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, who will be forced to take action to protect the integrity of the institution he leads.
AT NOON—-Barry is scheduled to speak on the JAWB steps.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Barry, Barry, Barry!
Today’s A1 WaPo Barry story by Nikita Stewart, Tim Craig, and Dagny Salas goes a ways toward explaining how the current mess that Barry finds himself in is very much of his own making—-and not just because of what happened Saturday. ‘Within his inner circle, there were the normal efforts to get Barry to back off. As always, he largely ignored the advice,’ they write. ‘The drama could have ended yesterday evening when authorities announced that they were dropping the stalking charges that again put Barry’s personal life on display….But there’s the likelihood of an investigation into his then-girlfriend getting a $60,000 council contract from Barry (D-Ward 8), which means the sideshow spectacle could continue….Andre Johnson, Barry’s former spokesman, said he does not expect Barry to let up. “He’s so emphatic about getting his point across,” Johnson said. “He’s probably the greatest political and media strategist I’ve ever met.” ‘ The account is accompanied by a timeline.
CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION—-‘Last night, council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) urged a probe into the contracts, though it is unclear whether council members can investigate a colleague. “These are public funds,” Catania said. “There needs to be an accounting.”…D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said that he will investigate if the council doesn’t. “My strong preference would be to have the council look into it,” he said. “After all, it’s money allocated to the council. If the council chooses not to look into it, then I certainly would.”‘
COUNCILMEMBER REAX—-‘Behind the scenes, some council members were stepping up the pressure on council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) to intervene with Barry, although they remained hesitant to speak publicly. “It’s one thing not paying your taxes and having some goofy traffic violation, but you start misusing public funds and that is a whole different thing,” one council member said. Gray released a statement last night that did not address Barry’s situation but recounted the steps he’s taken to tighten ethics policies in recent years.’
FENTY REAX—-On WRC-TV this morning: ‘Any time a public official is involved in anything, it’s tough on everyone…but these things happen and looks, as you said, that there’s been some movement on the criminal charges at least, and so hopefully, with that, there will be some ability…for the Barry team to quickly get it behind them.’ On the payments: ‘I don’t know exactly how she was hired and what if any rules someone is alleging that were broken….We have investigatory bodies that look at things like this. I think the council and mayor would say we welcome any investigations from those bodies.’ Also WTTG-TV.
GRAY STATEMENT—-‘D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray today stated that the Council’s administrative offices have been investigating and formulating various procedures for months in relation to Councilmember and staff conduct that may affect their professional duties….On March 30th of this year, Chairman Gray directed the Council’s Office of Policy Analysis (OPA) to begin to research and develop a paper on best practice ethics procedures used by state and city legislatures across the country. A draft of the findings is set for completion by the end of the week. This paper will be used to develop a Code of Conduct and other procedures for Councilmembers….”I have recognized for some time that there may be gaps in how Councilmembers ethics and alleged professional improprieties are handled,” the Chairman said. “This is why I asked the OPA, an office I created just two years ago, to look at what’s currently in our rules and laws and what may be needed in the way of improvements to ensure Councilmembers, as well as their staff, are properly performing their official duties and responsibilities.” Gray notes that the Council is not about the business of policing Members’ personal lives.’
ALSO—-Political consultant Joe Ruffin tells WaPo’s Craig that Watts-Brighthaupt ‘didn’t do any work’ on Barry’s re-election campaign and that he ‘was stunned to learn she had been paid.’ LL heard a different view from Anthony Motley, another top Barry campaign aide, who says she regularly drove Barry during the campaign. And Watts-Brighthaupt told LL recently that she wasn’t aware of the payments totaling $600, saying they were likely reimbursements for gas and meals. But the fact remains: She got $600 when several other comapign workers claim to this day they’re still owed money—-some say thousands.
INCIDENTALLY—-Sandra Seegars, in case you’re wondering, has no plans to mount a Barry recall.
DONNA WATTS-BRIGHTHAUPT SPEAKS—-Sits for the first time for an on-camera interview, tells WUSA-TV: ‘”We were a dysfunctional pair,” she said of her relationship with Barry….Watts-Brighthaupt says the relationship with Barry has damaged her. “I really regret I have lost the respect of my mother and other family members,” she said. “I hate that I may go down in history as one of many women he thinks he’s defeated,” she said.’
Says the WaPo editorial board: ‘Even though federal prosecutors have opted not to press a stalking charge against the former mayor and current D.C. Council member for Ward 8, Mr. Barry is not fit for office. It is time that city officials take action….It’s disturbing to think that a city facing such severe financial pressures can hand out precious public money on the unexamined whim of a besotted council member. More also must be known about the out-of-town trips that the City Paper reported she took with Mr. Barry….Mr. Barry must be admonished [by the council], and contracting rules must be tightened; the city’s attorney general also should launch an investigation into whether any ethical laws were breached.’
WaPo Metro columnist Robert McCartney: ‘[N]ow that it’s come to light that D.C. Council funds were put to questionable use, it’s become a good government issue that needs a thorough investigation. The District’s handling of this will help signal whether it wants to keep moving away from a political culture too tolerant of cronyism and self-dealing….Any investigation should focus on whether the public trust has been violated and how to tighten rules and oversight to keep elected officials from using public funds to improperly favor personal acquaintances. The council appears divided on how to proceed. A spokeswoman for Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said the council lacks authority to probe a member, but council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) said an accounting is needed.’ (McCartney is doing a live chat at noon.)
Examiner columnist Jonetta Rose Barras: ‘Women rarely do Barry wrong. Rather the Ward 8 councilman appears to habitually prey on females, who find him charming and interesting only to discover, over time, that he has very little respect for those of the opposite gender. The list of women he has not treated well seems endless. (No need to name them here.)…Womanizing isn’t the only known Barry narrative. “I-was-helping-a-constituent” also is a familiar tale. When Barry reportedly identified Watts-Brighthaupt as a “constituent,” I recalled Poplar Point [LL NOTE: It was Buzzard Point, actually]. That’s where he was when the Park Police found him several years ago in his car allegedly with white powder on his nose and upper lip. He was, he said, waiting for a constituent. To hear the four-term former mayor tell it, constituents get special attention, leading him to meet them at all hours of the night in various secluded locations.’
$50M in Metro funding removed from D.C. budget, Kytja Weir reports in a vagueish Examiner story. ‘Mayor Adrian Fenty removed the budget item approved in November, according to a council report. Council sources said it was redirected to pay for other items….Fenty spokeswoman Mafara Hobson said the mayor is committed to providing the city’s share of the funding, despite having taken the money from the D.C. budget. She provided no details on how the city would pay its part. Metro Chairman Jim Graham, who also serves on the D.C. Council, did not respond for comment.
Examiner’s Michael Neibauer covers the House appropriations vote on the District budget: ‘Attempts by Republicans to fully fund the D.C. private school voucher program, to reattach the ban on a marijuana referendum and to continue the 20-year prohibition on the use of local money to subsidize abortions all failed. There were no attempts to ban gay marriage, as some anticipated, nor were there any amendments offered to obliterate D.C.’s gun laws….Budget rider amendments may be offered on the House floor when the final Financial Services and General Government budget bill, which includes the city’s appropriation, comes up for a vote. “I’m taking my vitamins,” Rep. Jose Serrano, financial services chairman, told The Examiner on Wednesday. “It’s a tough haul.”‘
Couple of D.C. Wire items from Bill Turque: In a conflict growing out of a nasty interunion dispute, SEIU local files unfair labor practice charge against Hawk One Security, alleging that the DCPS contractor ‘has illegally surveilled, interrogated and suspended employees “who have participated in lawful union organizing activities to improve their working conditions.”‘ And Turque provides an update on DCPS enrollment numbers: The system project was 45,054; only 19,736 was thus far registered, though many wait till just before school starts. Notes spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway, ‘We are not concerned about current enrollment numbers….Compared to last year at this time, we have approximately 15,000 more students enrolled.’
In WaPo District Notebook: Stewart covers city plans to crack down on the use of private vehicles by city workers (first reported by LL). Turque has more on Tom Brokaw special featuring Michelle Rhee.
WTTG-TV covers the New Beginnings escapes: ‘After six juveniles escaped and were recaptured on Sunday, there are new calls to put in a warning system for nearby residents to alert them that an escape has occurred. “Clearly the security is not satisfactory there, and at a bare minimum they have to have proper security,” says Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold.’ Examiner columnist Gregory Kane admires Muriel Bowser‘s take on the issue: ‘I…immediately fell in love with Bowser. An elected official in a liberal, Democratic city who believes prisons should be called prisons and that inmates should be secured? Could this woman be a Democrat? I caught up with Bowser for a phone interview last week. She assured me she was, indeed, a Democrat. A good one. A “big, whomping” one. And one who, judging from a hearing she and fellow city council rep Tommy Wells of Ward 6 held in early June, demands accountability.’
ADAMS MORGAN WHODUNIT—-Lester Jackson, 70, found yesterday morning in his apartment on the 1800 block of Harvard Street NW. Investigators attribute his death to ‘blunt force trauma,’ per WaPo.
Examiner covers city HIV/AIDS testing efforts: ‘The District’s HIV/AIDS Administration is pressuring health care providers to make HIV testing part of routine patient treatment….Health officials want all medical providers in the city to implement an “opt-out” policy in which patients would be tested automatically for HIV unless they choose to refuse the test. “Opt-out normalizes and destigmatizes HIV testing,” said Dr. Shannon Hader, who heads the HIV/AIDS Administration….Hader said she hoped medical practitioners would adopt this policy voluntarily, but David Catania, who chairs the D.C. Council’s Committee on Health, said the government would legislate the policy if necessary.’
Metro’s new policy on texting train drivers: ‘One strike and you’re out. It’s plain, simple and strong,’ WTOP reports John Catoe said at this morning’s board meeting. ‘Operators and drivers caught using cell phones, texting or using PDAs while operating a vehicle will be fired under the new zero tolerance policy. Officials are finalizing the language for the policy which goes into effect July 13. The policy will allow train and bus operators to use personal cell phones during situations Metro deems emergencies.’ And WUSA-TV finds another video, this time of a bus driver testing.
COG to feds: Give us $1.5B for Metro! Reports Biz Journal: ‘The group pointed to the June 22 Red Line collision that killed nine and injured more than 70 passengers as proof of the system’s need for funds for maintenance work and safety upgrades….”Residents of every jurisdiction would be outraged if the federal government said, no” to providing their portion of the funding,” said D.C. Councilman Kwame Brown, D-at large. “We need to set some sort of deadline for an answer. There is no better case than this and no better time to put the federal government on the spot.”‘ Also WTOP.
WilmerHale’s participation in OTR investigation wins them kudos and top spot on pro bono list.
City program intended to increase tenfold the number of kids playing tennis, Hamil Harris reports in WaPo. ‘Through a partnership of the District’s Department of Parks and Recreation and a number of nonprofit groups, including the United States Tennis Association, the city is kicking off the QuickStart Tennis program, which was developed to help children learn the game. There are several hundred youths enrolled in city-run tennis programs at five locations, said parks department spokesman John Stokes. On Monday, that number is expected to jump to between 3,000 and 4,000 as children enrolled in the city’s summer Camp Discovery will be provided with tennis equipment and instruction through donations from the USTA. The tennis instruction will be in addition to arts, crafts, swimming and other activities.’ No word from Cora Masters Barry.
Wealthy white kids start selling ice cream out of truck; WaPo covers on B1: ‘At a time when the recession is eliminating most traditional summer work for teenagers and young adults, these young vendors have found their niche, leaving jobs at the mall, movie theaters and fast-food chains to older workers.’
Ducks take up residence in Dupont Circle B&B, WTTG-TV reports. Aww!
Poor security at federal government buildings, according to Government Accountability Office report recounted in Examiner by Hayley Peterson: ‘Guards did not even glance at the X-ray screens in nine out of the 10 buildings penetrated, according to GAO director Mark Goldstein. During one investigation, a guard was found asleep after taking a powerful painkiller. Another was found accessing an “adult Web site” on a government computer.’
Wanna know how juvenile justice works in D.C.? Check a new Council for Court Excellence guide [PDF], Legal Times reports. ‘The guide, the first of its kind, discusses how a case moves from arrest to discharge, what roles various government and non-governmental agencies and individuals play, and what rights victims of juvenile crime have.’
Richard Layman on closing 7th Street NW at Eastern Market.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on B18-149 (“Closing of G. Street, S.E., Adjacent to Square 1104, S.O. 06-5665, Act of 2009”), B18-298 (“Closing of a Portion of A Public Alley in Square 1297, S.O.04-7524, Act of 2009”), B18-331 (“Loree H. Murray Way Act of 2009”), JAWB 500; 1 p.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment hearing on B18-234 (“Comprehensive Boards and Commissions Review Amendment Act of 2009”) and B18-279 (“Board of Enhanced Access to Public Space and Building Establishments Act of 2009”), JAWB 123; 2 p.m.: Committee on Health roundtable on ‘update on the quality of care at United Medical Center,’ JAWB 500; 2:15 p.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation meeting on PR18-315 (“Director of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration Frederick P. Moosally Confirmation Resolution of 2009”), JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor with Barbara Harrison, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 10:30 a.m.: remarks, DPR Summer Youth Tennis pilot program kickoff, 1100 Michigan Ave. NE; 5:10 p.m.: guest, Washington Post Live, Comcast SportsNet; 7:30 p.m.: remarks, Fort Stanton Civic Association meeting, 1812 Erie St. NW.