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.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: DC Voter | August 1, 2008 9:45 AM
Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 9:52 AM
Posted by: Ryan | August 1, 2008 10:01 AM
Posted by: OldPhil | August 1, 2008 10:04 AM
Posted by: Boo | August 1, 2008 10:27 AM
Posted by: BobT | August 1, 2008 10:48 AM
Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 10:58 AM
Posted by: rhadams | August 1, 2008 11:20 AM
Posted by: anonymous | August 1, 2008 1:12 PM
Posted by: NALL92 | August 1, 2008 1:15 PM
Posted by: K BLIT | August 1, 2008 1:15 PM
Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 3:29 PM
Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 3:34 PM
Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 3:37 PM
Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 4:54 PM
Posted by: jerry464 | August 1, 2008 5:24 PM
Posted by: Terry | August 1, 2008 10:13 PM
Posted by: checkered.1 | August 2, 2008 6:54 AM
Posted by: DCDoug | August 2, 2008 8:19 PM
Posted by: DC Voter | August 2, 2008 11:04 PM
Posted by: Tim | August 3, 2008 6:04 AM
Posted by: Negro from SE | August 3, 2008 9:05 AM
Posted by: cav scout | August 3, 2008 9:24 AM
Posted by: Lawrence | August 3, 2008 1:05 PM
Posted by: eglobegus | August 4, 2008 8:55 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.