Archive for the ‘Marion Barry’ Category

Report Indicts DC Council Earmarks

February 19, 2010

Report Indicts DC Council Earmarks

It’s not called “All About Barry.”  The report by Robert S. Bennett  and Amy R. Sabrin is entitled “Council of the District of Columbia Contracts and Grants.”  Among the findings:

In the view of Special Counsel, the current form of Council earmarking is not a sound method for appropriating public funds. It effectively permits each Member to designate individual programs for funding on an ad hoc basis without prudently establishing spending priorities. Council Members, moreover, are understandably not equipped to fully and carefully vet individual grantees, and the legislative “logrolling” inherent in the earmark appropriations process inhibits thorough scrutiny of proposed grant recipients. The informal method by which grantees are selected clearly does not ensure that public funds go to the best or most effective organizations to deliver the intended services or accomplish the stated goals of the grant.


DC Council Earmarks

August 3, 2009

DC Council Earmarks

DC Council Chairman Vincent Gray has done a brave and sensible thing by eliminating councilmember earmarks from the FY2010 District of Columbia budget. But what DC Government really needs is earmark abolition.

Earmarks are no-bid contracts in the nonprofit sector, and they undercut the city’s competitive grant programs and bidding practices. Earmarks reward the politically-connected, not the best-qualified. Councilmembers and staff do not have the expertise or time to assess the merits of each earmarked grant or knowledge of competing alternatives. The Barry earmarks are exhibit A.

But look at the arts and cultural grants the Council awarded for FY 2010 before they were erased from the budget. The $31 million in Council arts earmarks totaled nearly 4 times the entire FY 2010 budget of the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities. Why bother filling out a DCCAH grant application and putting it through competitive peer-panel review and Commission approval for a possible 4 or 5 -figure grant when your councilmember can get you more money without any paperwork?


Marion Barry Observes Cell Phone Courtesy Month

July 9, 2009

Marion Barry Observes Cell Phone Courtesy Month

July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, and no one celebrates it like Ward Eight Councilmember Marion Barry. In conjunction with that paragon of proper deportment, Mike DeBonis of the Washington City Paper,  former DC  Mayor Barry provides us with suave strategies for tricky digital ettiquette in situations unforseen by Cell Phone Courtesy Month founder Jacqueline Whitmore.

Ms. Whitmore’s Protocol School of Palm Beach provides executive ettiquette coaching to enhance personal and business relationships, but only Mr. Barry can show how to finesse females by phone after you have locked them out of your hotel room for not coming across during the historic 2008 National Democratic Convention.  For while candidate Barack Obama was telling delegates “Yes We Can,”  Donna Watts-Brighthaupt told Mr. Barry “No I won’t!” so he locked her out of their room at the Denver Crowne Plaza.

How does a gentleman atone for such a faux pas? Mr. Barry suggests sending gifts of government contracts in lieu of flowers.

Ladies: Ms. Watts-Brighthaupt suggests archiving your cell phone recordings.


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Burgers and Bedfellows

May 19, 2009

Burgers and Bedfellows

“Oh man, if I had run a campaign saying I’d be working closely with Marion Barry, I don’t know that I would have been elected,” Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R, UT-03) told Marc Fisher of the Washington Post. But Mr. Chaffetz is on the House subcommittee that oversees Washington DC, and Marion Barry, former three-term DC Mayor, represents Ward 8 in the District of Columbia Council.

The Council passed a law mandating DC recognition of gay marriages performed in other states and countries, with Mr. Barry casting the lone dissenting vote. Mr. Chaffetz also disapproves of that new DC law and, thanks to historical accident, he gets a chance to overrule the duly-elected local government.

Mr. Chaffetz also says DC doesn’t need a vote in Congress since he will represent Washington’s citizens. Why does the Congressman feel no qualms about making laws for a place where he doesn’t live?  Probably because he doesn’t live in the Utah district he represents, either. Under Utah state law it is perfectly legal for Jason Chaffetz to live in Alpine, in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District (served by Democrat Jim Matheson) while representing the 3rd Congressional District.

For the record, Marion Barry actually lives in Ward 8.

Mr. Chaffetz loves to amuse the media by sleeping on top of a flagpole on a cot in his DC office and eating cheap fast food. A canny professional political operative, the Congressman favors Five Guys Burgers and Fries — it’s a DC-area chain but has locations in his Utah district (Bountiful, Midvale, Orem, Sandy, West Valley). What a coincidence!


DC Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage

May 5, 2009

DC Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage

The District of Columbia  Council voted today to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in U.S. states that permit them.

Councilman Marion Barry voted for the measure on the first ballot, against it on the second. Perhaps that puzzling action indicates approval of marriages between bisexuals.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and Massachusetts.  Four more states (Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York) are expected to permit same-sex marriages within the next year. Several more states recognize cetain legal aspects of same-sex unions.



Image (The Wedding Couple, after Abbott Handerson Thayer and Richard E. Miller) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

The Biggest Sport in Town

May 28, 2008

The Biggest Sport in Town

The Council of the District of Columbia is voting again on giving waterfront property and $150 million to a private business.  The business, the D.C. United franchise of Major League Soccer, happens to make a product I enjoy: fun.  The waterfront property, Poplar Point, was criminally neglected by (of all people) the National Park Service, and needs renewal as badly as other stretches of the Anacostia River shore.

But public financing of sports facilities is always a losing propositon for taxpayers, and the $150 million subsidy would be raised by the old Shell Game.


Grace Note

November 14, 2007

Grace Note

I can’t believe I’m using the word “grace” in a post regarding Gene Weingarten, but I’m running out of  simple music terms for titles on this thread. I take some comfort in this quote: “In bagpipe music there is extensive use of grace notes.” There. Now I feel better.

Gene Weingarten chimed in about the Tim-Page-Marion Barry affair during his on-line chat yesterday. Read the Washington Post’s self-described humor columnist’s words on this subject, for his column two weeks from now is a record of how he did exactly what Tim Page did to get off a PR email list:

“What Tim wrote was NOTHING compared to what I wrote. But I was not writing about a powerful politician who is willing to feign outrage and shamelessly deal out the race card, as Barry did here.”


Image by Mike Licht, with apologies to Eric Shansby.

Theme and Variations

November 13, 2007

Theme and Variations

Bruce Johnson’s Monday follow-up to his Marion Barry — Tim Page story on WUSA 9- TV added a significant new element:

“Page doesn’t cover Barry and has objected in the past to receiving emails from the legislator’s staff.”

So Tim Page’s regrettable email did not come out of nowhere. It was preceded by a history of staff incompetence in Mr. Barry’s office, and previous futile attempts by Mr. Page to correct it.


Sour Note Coda

November 12, 2007

Sour Note Coda

Council Member Marion Barry’s Media Consultant/Communications Director is upset that I emailed him. And it wasn’t even spam.

After Bruce Johnson broke the Tim Page – Marion Barry story late last night, details were few. I sent the following email to Andre M. Johnson, listed on Mr. Barry’s Web site as “Media Consultant” and described by the Post as “Communication Director”:

Sent: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 12:32 am 
Subject: Tim Page 
Mr. Johnson:  
I wondered why Council Member Barry’s office sent a press release to Tim Page. Was it about a Classical Music event?  
Mike Licht  
  Mike Licht  
Box 15346  
Washington, DC 20003  
(202) 546-9659  


Sour Note

November 12, 2007

Sour Note

Bruce Johnson of USA Channel 9 reported this story late Sunday night.

D.C. Council Member Marion Barry’s office sent an email press release to Tim Page, Pulitzer Prize-winning Classical Music Critic of the Washington Post, last Wednesday.

It is, to say the least, unusual for Mr. Barry’s staff to have Mr. Page on their email list. Mr. Barry’s Web site lists Andre M. Johnson as Media Consultant;” the Post calls him Mr. Barry’s “Communication Director.”

Mr. Page replied to the Barry press release, asking to be taken off the email list. His reply was wildly inappropriate, full of rage, venom and personal insults to Mr. Barry. The Council Member complained to the newspaper, and Bruce Johnson reports that the Post has instituted disciplinary action against Mr. Page, placing him on leave.