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Posted at 3:35 PM ET, 02/25/2011

Okay to put friends in city jobs, Barry says

By Tim Craig

The head of the D.C. Primary Care Association is warning Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and other city leaders not to stack the agency that controls District health-care spending with political appointees who may not be skilled in health matters.

One day after the chaotic firing of Sulaimon Brown from a $110,000 a year job in the Department of Health Care Finance, Sharon Baskerville told the D.C. Council that she worries that other recent political appointees at the agency may not be up to the job.

Baskerville's remarks to the Health Committee set up a tense discussion between her and council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who stressed that Gray has the right to appoint whomever he wants within reason to city government.

"To the victor goes the spoils," Barry said during the hearing. "Mayor Fenty lost and Mayor Gray won."

In an interview after her testimony, Baskerville said she is putting city leaders "on notice" that activists are watching to make sure that the agency that oversees a third of the city budget does not "crash and burn" due to poor hires.

Although she stressed that she does not know enough about Brown to say whether he was qualified for the job, Baskerville said another special assistant was recently hired to the agency "without evidence of qualifications."

She declined to identify whom she was referring to, but said she believes they had previously worked for Gray's campaign and transition.

"I am warning, this is not the department to dump people," Baskerville said. "My warning is this is critical. ... There are 230,000 people in D.C. who depend on Medicaid ... and we have a huge deficit and huge issues to deal with and only the highest-qualified can help navigate it."

Baskerville's public stance offended Barry, who stressed in an interview that certain city jobs go "to the person who won the election." He said the media is being unfair to Gray.

"I am sick and tired of the news people talking about cronyism and favorites," said Barry, a former four-term mayor. "Who's (Gray) supposed to hire? His enemies? No, just 'cause you're a friend of the mayor's doesn't mean you're not qualified."

Barry added, "In this city, you can't get to the mayor's office without a lot of friendships."

Wayne Turnage, interim director of the Department of Health Care Finance, hired Brown as a special assistant in his agency this month after Gray's transition team recommended him for a position within the agency.

On Thursday, after media reports about Brown's salary and background, including a 2007 restraining order involved allegations of stalking a 13-year-old girl, Turnage dismissed the one-time mayoral candidate.

Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), chairman of the committee, briefly brought up the matter at Turnage's confirmation hearing. But Turnage said he was unable to discuss personnel matters.

After Baskerville testified in support of Turnage, Barry told The Washington Post that he was disturbed that she implied Brown "wasn't qualified" for his job.

"It is wrong to malign someone's character without knowing anything about the person," Barry said. "People ought to stop maligning."

By Tim Craig  | February 25, 2011; 3:35 PM ET
Categories:  Marion Barry, Tim Craig, Vincent C. Gray, vincent gray  
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Next: Cheh wants D.C. salary probe, council pay cut


"Next to womens, booth, and drugs, my favorite thing when I wath mayor wasth to give nice jobth to my lady friends."

--- Marion Barry

Posted by: jismquiff | February 25, 2011 6:27 PM | Report abuse

The headline is grammatically incorrect. It is "whom" not "who." The pronoun in this case is the object of "appoint." An object takes "whom," not "who."

Posted by: RockvilleBear | February 25, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

As long as the hired is not Hispanic, White, educated or a woman, Barry is fine.

Posted by: Ward3three | February 25, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Great. Now Hizzoner has weighed in and defended Vince Gray's right to political cronyism over responsible administration.

Tell me again who had the Worst Week in Washington this week?

Posted by: hisroc | February 25, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Statehood: NEVER*

*(at least until the demographics inevitably change. Start learning how to speak Spanish or at least learn how to speak White.

Posted by: wagtdn | February 25, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Council Member, David Catania I, trust but verify! Your job, as usual, is to keep an eye of folks who are not qualified for positions in the Gray Government. Enough foolishness. Peoples lives are at stake!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | February 25, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

"To the victor goes the spoils," Barry said during the hearing. "Mayor Fenty lost and Mayor Gray won."

I'm thinking he wouldn't say that about congressional Republicans who want to end the federal payment.

Posted by: gbooksdc | February 25, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh, come on now. As if anyone expected Mayor for Life Barry to say something different??!!

Posted by: seaduck2001 | February 25, 2011 7:17 PM | Report abuse

"Who he's suppose to hire, his enemies?" Is this guy you don't hire your enemies, BUT hire qualified people who can actually do the job. So you're giving your friends 25% bonuses while you put DC further into debt and yet DC Gov employees excluding MPD and FEMS are being furloughed, riffed and everything else to fit the new Mayors staff budget....I'm in the wrong career because if I can get paid $190,000 for a pt job then whew!!!!!

Posted by: bsu06 | February 25, 2011 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Gray needs to put his own hires in place and get the previous administrations folks out of there. If not, this will only cause himself a lot of heartburn

Posted by: dropem95 | February 25, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Barry redux. Gray is a complete disgrace. I couldn't understand why anyone voted for him or that other buffoon Kwame Brown. I guess certain demographics prize flash over substance.

Posted by: jab00 | February 25, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Bullspit! I know Crackion Barry is not chiming in. "To the victor goes the spoils," Barry said during the hearing"..C'mon son. Big Vince can't catch a break, his own terrible decisions, PimpMyKwame's terrible decisions and now this crack smokin, tax evading, womanizing, corrupt azz figga wants to throw his two cents in or should I say dime bag..Child please.

Posted by: evolvedthinker | February 25, 2011 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Barry is correct. The Mayor does get to hire whom he wants and these sore losers need to just get over it. Interesting that the Post presented the testimony of one person who is obviously biased and did not publich the testimony of anyone else. This woman doesn;t know jack about the qualifications of these people becaue she doesn't work inthe agency. Where was all of this concern about unqualified appointees when Fenty hired Gabe Klein to head DDOT with ZERO experience running a government agency? The result was bikelanes where no one wanted them, fewer parking spaces, congested traffic, the street car fiasco, cost overruns, and traffic nighmares on NY Ave, just to name a few his failures. If you Fenty butt kissers want to talk about unqualified--I don't think you want to go there! I haven't even started on Michele Rhee and her minions!

Posted by: PepperDr | February 25, 2011 8:07 PM | Report abuse

"First of all, it was a an erotic club, not a strip joint. And second of all, what can I say I'm a night owl?"

Actual quote from Hizzoner Mayor Barry when mayor of DC.

Posted by: lipschitzantwon | February 25, 2011 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Barry is naive if he doesn't realize how serious Medicaid finance administration is in this day and age. It's not the same as the good ole graft days of the Barry mayoral years. The Feds are going after all kinds of fraud at the local level to help offset the costs of the new healthcare bill. The Feds define fraud to include accounting mistakes. DC cannot afford to have a lightweight in a position that monitors this sort of thing. Of course all Barry cares about is cronyism. His form of cronyism put DC in debt, created government jobs as a form of welfare, caused a Congressional takeover, and contributed to a culture of dependence.

Posted by: lipschitzantwon | February 25, 2011 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, folks. I gotta side with Mayor Barry on this one. As long as it is legal, Gray can hire friends. You hope if he does they are qualified.

Bottom line, you voted for Gray and part of that is he gets to make appointments as he sees fit. If you don't like it, too bad. Wait for the next election. Maybe you should have checked him out better or obtained commitments beforehand.

DC voters get the government they deserve.

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | February 25, 2011 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Marion Barry is a country crack addict idiot. Why don't the Angel of Death come take him from the earth? His been an embarrassment to Washingtonians.

Posted by: DaddyGraceFishSandwich | February 26, 2011 12:20 AM | Report abuse

I'd feel like punching Marion Barry. I don't care how old and weak he is. I've been in DC a lot longer than this reverse carpetbagger, who came north to tell us how to run OUR city, and I've had enough of his ghetto BS!

Posted by: johng1 | February 26, 2011 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Is he still a night owl?

Posted by: wewintheylose1 | February 26, 2011 6:25 AM | Report abuse

I think everyone is well aware of why the crackhead is tired of people looking over his shoulder!

Posted by: priveye | February 26, 2011 6:40 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone find this mindless blathering from Barry surprising?

Posted by: UrbanDweller | February 26, 2011 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Having Marion Barry speak out in defense of one's hiring practices is sure to restore confidence -- at least among those friends, friends-of-friends, family members and campaign contributors you've already "rewarded" with jobs. Never let it be said that ability, aptitude or experience trump close, personal connections.

Posted by: mac4700 | February 26, 2011 8:25 AM | Report abuse

And you morons want statehood? They should just build a wall to keep you in and away from the rest of us.

Posted by: PZ007 | February 26, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse

And you morons want statehood? They should just build a wall to keep you in and away from the rest of us.

Posted by: PZ007 | February 26, 2011 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Of course Barry is going to say that. I am sure he has a few people he would like Gray to hire as well right now and in the future. Barry is noted for hiring his lady friends who are not qualified for the position but because he wants to date and/or take a portion of their pay since he is entitled to it.

Barry needs to go. When will people wake up and realize Barry is only looking out for himself. He could care less about the people he represents.

Posted by: lawkat73 | February 26, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Once the gentrification takes over the whole city, the relics like Barry and Gray will be gone and there will be no more corruption. Too bad for Barry this means no more late night boat drug parties on the Anacostia River.

Posted by: pjohn1 | February 26, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Mayor Barry is right, he can appoint who he wants to, but the dear former Mayor for life forgot that Mr. Gray ran on a platform to end the crazy double standards and cronyism he constantly leveled at the Fenty administration and is now doing the exact same thing. Mayor Barry, I love ya, but you need to step back and rest on your laurels, you were just caught up in a scandal with a woman you were courting and also offered a contract to, ...even though she had no experience whatsoever. You were after the panties by any mean necessary. Sorry Mayor this is where it needs to end!

Posted by: Fred23 | February 26, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Way to go Mayor Barry in support of Gray, Rayful Edmunds also support Gray's decision. Charles Manson just called in and said Gray should be able to hire whoever he wants. Jack Kevorkian may be the new DC Health Secretary. Vince is also consideration Charlie Sheen as Drug Czar and Qaddafi as Chief of Police. We are a city on the rise. Kwame Brown is hiring Kwame Brown as Kwame Brown's Chief of Staff, so there is one more Lincoln Nav to be ordered!!

I swear Mayberry would be heaven to live in. I am growing impatient with our black leaders in DC, I am at my wits end. This is not what I envisioned when I jumped and yelled for a black mayor. THis is not what I had in mind. I guess alot of educated, intellectual, politically minded african americans are beating their heads against the wall.

Posted by: Fred23 | February 26, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

lol fred23!

Posted by: johng1 | February 26, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I certainly would not want "Barry" of all people championing my cause. Just the mere thought of having Barry's blessing implies something illegal is afoot...

Posted by: WhitneyDavid | February 28, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

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