Back in March, Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry (D) was stripped of his position as chair of the Council’s housing committee. This was, of course, due to his questionable awarding of contracts to a girlfriend, among other allegations of ethics violations. At the same time, he was removed from the Committee on Finance and Revenue, a move that seemed a long time coming given his guilty plea to failure to pay income tax.
It’s June now, and both candidates for Council chair are talking about giving Barry a committee chairmanship in 2011. Yup, that’s right, Barry could potentially get his power back in less than a year, and there’s nothing voters can do about it. Both Kwame Brown and Vincent Orange have not ruled out restoring Barry’s position. In fact, current At-Large Councilmember Brown has said it only makes sense, and that as chair all Councilmembers would head a committee. This was also the policy of current chair Vincent Gray, prior to Barry’s 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.”
Vincent Orange, the former Councilmember and Pepco employee was a little more wishy-washy than Brown on the matter. Orange, at least, admitted that more information was needed to decide, considering that federal prosecutors are reviewing Barry’s case.
With neither of the Council chair candidates taking a hard stand on Barry’s ethics problems, it almost makes you want to write-in Vincent Gray for chair this November.