Will Marion Barry get his committee back?
This morning, my cubiclemate, Ann Marimow, reported on allegations that Kwame Brown, running for chairman of the D.C. Council, secured an endorsement from Ward 8 council member Marion Barry in return for promising him the chair of the powerful economic development committee -- allegations aired by Brown's opponent, Vincent Orange, and denied by Brown.
Medium-length-story short: It's a low-rent version of the horse-training dust-up that President Barack Obama now finds himself amid.
Whatever. The larger question remains: What happens to Barry under a Chairman Brown or a Chairman Orange?
Barry, of course, was stripped of his chairmanship of the housing committee as punishment for handing a council contract to his girlfriend and abusing budget earmarks. Question is: Will his banishment from his committee chairmanship stand? Or will he be allowed to once again oversee a portion of the city budget, conduct agency oversight, and get a big boost to his office budget?
The decision will lie in the hands of the new chairman. Has Barry permanently forfeited his right to oversee city funds? Or -- as his attorney, Fred Cooke, has put it -- has he "served enough time in the penalty box"?
Brown said Friday afternoon that he'll give Barry a committee.
Not because the ex-four-term-mayor might have redeemed himself, but because under a Brown chairmanship, everyone gets a committee. That has been the practice under Vincent C. Gray (save, of course, for Barry, post-censure).
"You shouldn't sit on the council, make that much money part-time and not be accountable for trying to move this city forward," Brown said. "It's the responsible thing to do."
Orange is cagier about his attitude toward a Barry-led committee. "I would cross that bridge when I get to it," he said.
But unlike Brown's all-comers policy, Orange wants to reduce the number of committees to as few as seven to save money.
Still, Orange said it's "premature" to say whether Barry would be qualified to chair one of those committees, given that the council referred his misdeeds to federal prosecutors for review.
"I'll examine the entire record, and the record is not complete," he said.
Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post
June 4, 2010; 4:31 PM ET
Categories: Kwame Brown , Marion Barry , The District , Vincent Orange
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