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From Now On, I'm Entrusting My Car Care To Marion Barry

"Watch out!" Marion Barry cried out to his aide and driver as a Metrobus pulled away from the curb just ahead of us. "That bus will hit you--he doesn't care."

As I was toodling around Ward 8 with Barry a little while back--reporting yesterday's column on the eternal mayor's latest ideas about his home turf--Barry served up a steady patter of wisecracks about Metrobus. But Barry didn't want to talk about the specifics of his own mishap with a bus. Which is too bad, because, as The Post's Lena Sun reported in June, Barry, claiming his champagne-colored Mercedes was sideswiped by a Metrobus last summer, managed to wheedle a $3,227.40 payment from Metro for repairs that cost only $2,234.

He's been mayor for life, council member for nearly that long, a street fighter and a civil rights agitator, a chemistry teacher and a legendary night owl. Barry has done it all--but he wasn't a master of the car care business until now.

As much as I have criticized Mr. Mayor for various political misdeeds over the years, I take it all back. If Barry would be willing to take over the maintenance and management of my personal automobiles, I would gladly pay him a handsome sum, for he has now demonstrated an ability to work the system on behalf of his car that outstrips anything I've ever been able to do for my wheels.

Reading the original news story, I quickly lost count of the outrages being catalogued. So let's try to get them all down in one clear list:

--Barry got Metro to pay him about $1,000 more than he paid for the repair to his passenger side mirror and doors.

--Barry freely admits he kept the rest of the money. "The case is closed where I'm concerned," he told The Post.

--Barry had his city-paid staffer take care of the repair. Must be nice.

--Barry won the claim despite never having filed a police report of the purported accident. He told Sun he didn't bother with the police because "they don't come to minor accidents." Funny, they always have whenever I've called.

--Metro paid despite the fact that there was no damage to the bus, no report of any accident, no witness, and no call or claim from Barry until fully a month after the supposed incident.

--According to Metro statistics obtained by Post reporter Sun, the amount paid out to Barry is nearly three times larger than the average payment Metro has made in the 224 vehicle accidents involving a Metrobus recorded this fiscal year. The average award was $1,117. In the previous fiscal year, the average award across 437 claims was $974.

--Barry, who was perhaps a tad more likely to win his claim against Metro than you or I might be, especially because he sits on Metro's board of directors, has hardly returned the favor. Indeed, he has the worst attendance record of anyone on the Metro board. As Sun reported, "In three years, he has attended nine of 165 Metro committee and board meetings." When she asked Barry about that sorry record, the council member replied in his inimitable style, "I'm surprised I've been to that many." At this point in the story, I'll pause while you rise for the obligatory standing O.

--(The story on Barry and the auto claim included a delightful parenthetical, a shocker of a passage about how Barry and his fellow board members are not paid for their service--except for the member who represents Prince George's County, one Marcel Solomon, who gets a whopping $73,000 a year from the county for attending Metro board meetings and other work. Solomon, it turns out, is a longtime friend of County Executive Jack Johnson who formerly served as Johnson's personal attorney. As The Post's Cheryl Thompson and Ovetta Wiggins reported in 2006, "even before Johnson was sworn in as county executive, Solomon received a three-month, $40,000 county contract to help with the Johnson transition into office." One day after that contract ended in 2003, Solomon got the first of several more contracts totaling $331,250 to serve as Johnson's man on the Metro board.)

--Metro paid Barry's claim and sent him the moola by courier. Enclosed with the payment was a letter in which Metro essentially copped to paying a totally unjustified claim solely because Barry is a VIP: Metro's letter said the agency "has been unable to confirm the particulars of your allegation that a Metrobus caused the occurrence and your damages. Nevertheless, in recognition of your public position and your commitment to the public interest, [Metro] has determined that it is appropriate to accept your demand for full settlement." You really don't get more candid admissions than that.

Probably there are even more outrages tucked into this lovely little tale. If you've found them, please share with the class on the message boards below.

Last month, Barry staged his announcement that he will run for reelection as the Ward 8 council member, disappointing those of us who had been hoping he might serve instead as our personal automobile care ombudsman.

By Marc Fisher |  August 1, 2008; 8:51 AM ET
Previous: Barry Shows Off The New Ward 8 | Next: Forgive Him His Spelling--This Guy Can Write


Please email us to report offensive comments.

And the idiots in Ward 8 will re-elect this crack smoking, lying, thief in a landslide.

And DC wants to be a state. HA!

Posted by: DC Voter | August 1, 2008 9:45 AM

That's Marion Barry and DC for you.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 9:52 AM

Actually, Marc, Barry is right about the police: They don't come to minor accidents in D.C. That's their policy. If they came to yours, I have no idea why. My mother has had the same experience as Barry -- the police won't come for a minor accident where no one is injured.

You should correct your column to at least reflect that perhaps the D.C. police treat you as a VIP and come to your minor accidents. Also, instead of writing innuendo, why don't you take 2 minutes to do a little investigating to figure out what the D.C. police's policy is on minor accidents? You know, figure out who's right and who's wrong rather than just insinuating that everyone else is lying and that you're the most honest person on the planet.

Posted by: Ryan | August 1, 2008 10:01 AM

And didn't the original article state that the damage was on the PASSENGER side of the (parked) car, meaning it had to have been illegally parked on the left side of the street, or else the bus was driving on the sidewalk?

Posted by: OldPhil | August 1, 2008 10:04 AM

Barry and his cronnies needs to move to Chicago or Los Angeles. But then again, the folks in those cities may not entertain his idiocy.

Posted by: Boo | August 1, 2008 10:27 AM

I'll defend the mayor on this point: The police don't come to minor accidents. I got rear-ended to the tune of $4K getting onto the Memorial bridge (outbound, from the Rock Creek offshoot).

DC police wouldn't come, saying it wasn't their problem, and Park Police said that there wasn't enough damage (despite that I had a caved into the back seat trunk and, um, they made that judgment OVER THE PHONE).

But yeah, other than that....Marion Berry's Auto/Body Extravaganza! Sure to be on NO approved insurance auto/body shop lists.

Posted by: BobT | August 1, 2008 10:48 AM

"And didn't the original article state that the damage was on the PASSENGER side of the (parked) car, meaning it had to have been illegally parked on the left side of the street, or else the bus was driving on the sidewalk?"

Or legally parked on a one way street, that allows parking on both sides of the street. Not knowing the location of the accident it may have been parked legally.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 10:58 AM

The community cannot move forward, or be taken seriously, if Marion Barry, this criminal and hooligan, is continued to be seen as some sort of hero. He is not.

Posted by: rhadams | August 1, 2008 11:20 AM

Police DO come to all accidents that involve METRO Busses! Provided they are informed that there was an accident.

Posted by: anonymous | August 1, 2008 1:12 PM

in all the time i lived in DC i couldn't understand the locals love of marion barry. when he was busted smoking crack i laughed til i cried!! but when i look back at all of the GOOD things he did for the locals i can understand thier loyalty. he did a lot of good things for the people of the city. especially the elderly and the very young and the disadvantaged. i know, i know, he may not have, how can i put this.....followed the legal and morally correct path, but in the end the people reaped the benefits; programs, jobs, so on and so on.

Posted by: NALL92 | August 1, 2008 1:15 PM

Barry is a crook but an interesting crook who is kept by Ward 8 for amusment. But since he will opening a charter school maybe he will get one of those $3million contracts like the Shcool Board gave out to 2 people to set in an attic. How can Barry get an education related deal since he is a convicted felon? Wait because he is Marion Barry! On the other hand the cops are slow to respond since they are running cigar store protecttion rackets while bein gpaid by the District. As for Maryland hey we forget that ole Spiro set a standard by accepting birbes in paper sacks in his officed while VP. Of course Cheney just starts a war and awards no bid contracts to his former soon to be return to company. $637 million for a stadium and nothing for libraries. And Johnson should be careful since it appears that all of his drivers are former psycotics. Hate politics grand?

Posted by: K BLIT | August 1, 2008 1:15 PM


"DC police wouldn't come, saying it wasn't their problem,"

DC police will not come even if it was their problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 3:29 PM


"Barry and his cronnies needs to move to Chicago or Los Angeles".

Barry and his cronies need to move to Siberia, Russia.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 3:34 PM

NALL92 - I agree Barry has helped people in small ways which he publicized to stroke his own ego. But from what I have seen, he is more responsible than any other single DC public servant for running our city's services into the ground over many years, including the school system. Whatever help he has provided to the young and the elder surely hasn't even come close to making up for the lack of quality education and other services he's essentially denied them over many, many years. He's trying to make up for it now, by supposedly being the champion for government accountability pointed at the Fenty administration. That take balls, since he is a living symbol of government waste and corruption.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 3:37 PM

"Or legally parked on a one way street, that allows parking on both sides of the street. Not knowing the location of the accident it may have been parked legally."

As per the cited (original) article. The accident occured on Martin Luther King Jr, Ave which is not a one way street, from what I remember.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 4:54 PM

Barry is a disaster. He gets a free ride. Although DC police don't enforce parking zones during rush hour, don't man traffic lights and direct traffic, all things that Fairfax Police seem to manage with twice the population and a far smaller police force. T

Posted by: jerry464 | August 1, 2008 5:24 PM

Well, I posted a long post that showed that MLK Jr. Ave was a two-way street between W and Chicago streets but I included several links, which I guess is why it wasn't posted. So to avoid the block...


It is pretty darn clear from the map that MLK is a two-way street between W and Howard Rd; and Chicago St is north of Howard and south of W. Why is it clear? Because the B2 bus travels both directions on that stretch of MLK.

Just for the record, MLK IS a one-way street further north of W St (do a google search of the MLK revitalization or renewal plan - part of the plan involves rerouting the B2 bus to use the "existing" northbound lane of MLK - it already uses the southbound lanes) so Barry's passenger side could not possibly have been damaged as Barry described to the Post.

I am not implying that Barry's car did not get hit by a B2 Metro bus. It is entirely possible that Barry was on W street which is one-way on the stretch the B2 traverses. However, if Barry gave the same description to WMATA that he gave to the Post, this reflects poorly on Metro that they didn't check out the feasibility of the scenario. (It took me 5 minutes to figure out how to check the scenario... I also used google and yahoo maps - it's a two way street.) They should have asked Barry for clarification of the incident.

Posted by: Terry | August 1, 2008 10:13 PM

Marion for mayor! Bring back the good old days!

Posted by: checkered.1 | August 2, 2008 6:54 AM

For once a brother wins.

Posted by: DCDoug | August 2, 2008 8:19 PM

DCDoug: That had to be the stupidest comment I have seen in a Fisher blog, and things can get pretty stupid in here.

That $3K Mayor Barely got could have gone a long way for school supplies, and that would have helped kids. To he11 with your "brother" winning. And you (and buttocks buddy mayor) are telling the kids of DC to go to he11 too.

Sleep on that, maroon.

Posted by: DC Voter | August 2, 2008 11:04 PM

Leave Marion ALONE! It's pitiful that all MARC FISCHER has to write about is the antics of MARION BARRY. MARC should spend more ink on how DICK CHAINEY and his cronies were able to rip off the AMERICAN people for BILLIONS AND BILLIONS of dollars. NOW that's news!

Posted by: Tim | August 3, 2008 6:04 AM

At least Marion Barry is not as crooked as most caught politicians. Help is needed in DC and we should let Barry retire next election. But we won't we are foolish negroes and we will be laughed at again.

Posted by: Negro from SE | August 3, 2008 9:05 AM

marion berry, proof positive that you get the government you deserve.

Posted by: cav scout | August 3, 2008 9:24 AM

I am not a big Barry supporter. But I must say to those people link his failings to political issues like statehood to make sure that their congressmen and other politicians performing state functions have clean hands before making coming. Dirty hands would be taking lobbyist money for a cause that does not benefit their electorate, anything involving restrooms, interns, drinking at work, taking trips, allocating federal money for pet projects, drugs, adultery, etc.

What? They don't have clean hands? Then simmer down! Those things have nothing to do with state rights and you only show your lack of understanding about the idea of voting rights with those statements.

Posted by: Lawrence | August 3, 2008 1:05 PM

Mr. Fisher is right to expose the misgivings of the METRO policies discriminating against valid negligence in vehicular accidents caused by negligent METRO drivers.

The facts relating to Marion Barry's inept public service is also accurate.

A unrelenting fact of Mr. Fisher noting Ward 8's loyalty to Barry is directly related to failure of Barry's insufficient public policies in public education, and the effects of DC gov's financial failings continuously in the Barry years as Mayor.

The Congress installation of "the Control Board" is in-fact due to Barry's inept appointees of thieves and convicted Agency Administrators and felonious DC Gov employees hired under the Barry administrations.

Ward 8 today comprises DC's highest percapata of illiterate parents, and Ward 8 leads the region in murders, thefts, assaults, burglaries and police dealing drugs with the convicted and paroled wards 8 felons.

Further examination of Mr. Barry's "CREW" reflects the chemically addicted woman on public assistance with children unmarried who was employed in Mr. Barry's reelection was charged with running over up to thirty UNIFEST participants two summers past.

Barry relies upon illiterate families of felons and thieves, which out number non-convicts, those who are still on DC's public payrolls while on probation or supervision or on bail for felonies against Ward 8 residents.

Police protection is absent in WARD eight - only the felons of DC gov employees who have committed crimes and hold open criminal charges are in the majority in Ward 8.

It stands to reason that Marion Barry is a felon, a thief, and, his election reflects an extremely illiterate criminal population which prefers a criminal in public office for a criminal government for liars, thieves, and drug using pimps.

Mr. Barry's transgressions reflect the depth of DC's Democratic Party politics - Lies, misrepresentations, and, criminal policy in contrast to public interest and trust.

Posted by: eglobegus | August 4, 2008 8:55 AM

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