On Tuesday, a wondrous occurrence happened. Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry returned Loose Lips’ phone call.
LL was not expecting this. Two previous LLs, Elissa Silverman and James Jones, had been subject to bans, based largely on reporting about the councilmember’s personal life. On one occasion, Jones sought to “bury the hatchet” with Barry. He replied: “Bury it in your back! That’s what I’d say.” LL expected the ban to continue ex officio.
But the councilmember told LL he was willing to give the new guy a chance, as a “test,” and he spoke frankly for nearly 10 minutes about his about-face to oppose the Payday Loan Consumer Protection Act, a bill that threatens to put payday lenders out of business. The essence of what Barry said was that he did not fully grasp the implications of the bill when he signed his name to it, and that it is not an uncommon occurrence for a councilmember to change his mind. (LL holds it is an uncommon occurrence for a legislator to oppose his own bill when the whole of rest of the legislative body supports it.)
Earlier this afternoon, the Ward 8 councilmember phoned LL at his office to tell him he had failed the test. Barry’s main gripe had to do with LL’s invocation of his change of heart on public financing for the baseball stadium. LL failed to mention, he said, that Kwame Brown, Vincent Gray, and Carol Schwartz also changed their minds; nor, Barry said, did LL fully express how common it is for legislators to reconsider their positions. He did not allege any factual error.
Barry did stand by his quote, “Ain’t no shame in changing your mind.”
Which does give LL hope.