Barry vs. Fenty in Budget Slugfest?
Today may bring some intense exchanges between Marion Barry and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. Barry is trying to push the mayor to set aside as much as $200 million in anti-poverty program funds. When Fenty comes before the District Council today, Barry promises it won't be a lovefest.
Fenty will testify on his 2009 fiscal year $5.6 billion budget at 11 a.m. in the chambers of the John A. Wilson Building. And Barry (D-Ward 8) says he'll be waiting. Barry supported Fenty during the 2006 campaign, but lately the four-term mayor hasn't been feeling Fenty.
"I'm on six committees.... I want to influence the council and set the tone for next year," Barry said. "We spend more on repairing streets than we do repairing lives."
Barry represents the poorest ward in the city, but he may get some help from a neighbor, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), who also lives east of the Anacostia River.
"How can you argue against fighting poverty?" Gray asked.
For the past two weeks, Barry has met with several community activists, homeless advocates and social service providers, and business and religious leaders to urge them to come to the council's budget hearings during April. The Poverty Reduction Coalition, led by Barry, is strategizing about how to tackle entrenched proverty in the District.
"This is the first time we had a coalition of 200," Barry said. "It's not just Marion Barry. We're going to fight as hard as we can fight."
Barry said he's not pleased with the money that Fenty has allocated in the budget for homeless families, rent subsidies, affordable housing, ex-offenders, childcare and healthcare. He has repeatedly asked Fenty to include more funds for low-income families. Fenty promised $117 million to homeless advocates for affordable housing, Barry said.
"I have not been able to identify it in the budget," he said. "The mayor wants to hear from us on this and in some instances we'll be able to work together in identifying resources. You put your budget where your mouth is."
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