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Council Passes -- and Barry Praises -- New Ethics Code

D.C. Council member Marion Barry said today the new ethics code for council members is "a step forward" that demonstrates Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray's "progressive thinking.'

In an unanimous vote, the council approved emergency legislation that establishes the city's first "Code of Official Conduct" for council members.

The proposal, for example, states that council members need to uphold "unusually high standards of honesty, integrity, impartiality" and that the "avoidance of misconduct and conflicts of interest on the part of council members is indispensable." Some of those standards were already scattered through out city code, but Gray concluded the ethical policies dealing with the council were confusing and too dispersed.

The new code marks the first time since the council was formed in 1973 that members can access a unified, written ethics code.

Barry, whose been battling ethical questions all summer, praised Gray for bringing up the issue.

"This is a step forward," Barry said. "This part of a series of efforts to try to make sure the council is moving forward."

The new ethics policies took on a greater urgency after it was discovered this summer that Barry had awarded a city contract to a girlfriend. But Barry and his colleagues sought to downplay the role the controversy played in efforts to develop the ethics code.

"Thanks for bringing this," Barry told Gray. "It's a situation that most us can be proud of. All of have followed [the rules] anyway. It's just a matter of putting it all together."

Earlier in the day, Dave Mallof emailed members of the council and the media demanding that Gray first hold a public meeting on his emergency ethics resolution before it is voted on.

"This is not just about putting lipstick on the troubled ...situation with Mr. Barry," Mallof wrote. "The conflicts and need to disclose run far, far deeper in this town, and require improved public disclosure. A public hearing on the bill is essential."

But Council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) argued the council need to act quickly in approving the emergency resolution. The resolution will expire in 90 days, at which time it will likely be replaced with permanent legislation.

"If this is not an emergency, I don't know what is," Thomas said. " I think the chairman is moving in a very expeditious manner...This is not some knee-jerk reaction."

Gray added, "The council has been working on this for quite some time."

"It's an evolutionary process that has brought us here today," Gray said.

-- Tim Craig

By Anne Bartlett  |  September 22, 2009; 2:06 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Tim Craig  
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"Unanimously approved code of conduct for members also wins praise from Marion Barry"

Ahahahahaaaa -- only in D.C.!

Posted by: zippyspeed | September 22, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Praise from Barry? The code must not have said anything about paying taxes.

Posted by: JohnnyU2Berry | September 22, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Surely this is a joke.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | September 22, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

NOW, get those council members to "sign" a document before they take office and once they exit office stating that they will and have honored the code of ethics.

A signature will make individuals more accountable vs. taking an oath.

Posted by: ThePibbster | September 22, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

*ruffle. ruffle. ruffle*

Whutcha doin?

Lookin fer the exception.

Whut exception?

The one that says Barry isn't covered by the code.

It's only on the copy in his back pocket.

Posted by: mickle1 | September 22, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

I hope everyone comes to the rally, Thursday, Sept. 24, 4:30 p.m., at 825 North Capitol. Parents, teachers, community activists, and students will be rising up to make our displeased voices heard about the hijacking/undermining of public education by rhee, fenty and those of their ilk!

Posted by: schooletal | September 22, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. I'm so happy that Marion Barry approves of this code. I agree with another poster that this must be a joke and I figure it's a way to egg us on to post comments.

Posted by: MissFit | September 22, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh yes, I am sure they 'modedenly will uphold "unusually high standards of honesty, integrity, impartiality" and the emphasis will no doubt be on the unusually, not the high.

Good luck to my friends in DC

Posted by: Viperdriver1 | September 22, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh, they'll save the Snail Darter, and, that little owl.

But, when it comes to the Great Grafting Council-puss, it gets NO RESPECT.

Posted by: zickzack | September 22, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Can somebody please tell Marion Barry the meaning of "ethics"? The people of Ward 8 also need to be told why their decision to keep electing him is both an embarrassment to them and the city.

Posted by: DCMax | September 23, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

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